Waverley Borough Council Home Page Waverley Borough Council Home Page


Waverley Borough Council Committee System - Committee Document

Meeting of the Licensing and Regulatory Committee held on 21/02/2005
LICENSING ACT 2003 – PROPOSALS FOR DECISION MAKING ON LICENCE APPLICATIONS



Summary & Purpose
This report puts forward a range of procedural decisions for the Committee to make to implement the Council’s new responsibilities as Licensing Authority under the Licensing Act 2003. There are significant resource implications, but it is very difficult to quantify these yet.

Quality of Life Implications
Natural Resource Use
Pollution Prevention and Control
Biodiversity and Nature
Local Environment
Social Inclusion
Safe Communities
Local Economy
Natural
Resource Use
Pollution
Prevention and Control
Biodiversity
and Nature
Local
Environment
Social
Inclusion
Safe, Healthy
and Active
Communities
Local
Economy
N/A
Positive
N/A
Positive
Positive
Positive
Positive


APPENDIX A
WAVERLEY BOROUGH COUNCIL

LICENSING AND REGULATORY COMMITTEE
– 21ST FEBRUARY 2005
_________________________________________________________________________
Title:

LICENSING ACT 2003 – PROPOSALS FOR DECISION MAKING ON LICENCE APPLICATIONS
[Wards Affected: All]
_________________________________________________________________________
Summary and purpose:

This report puts forward a range of procedural decisions for the Committee to make to implement the Council’s new responsibilities as Licensing Authority under the Licensing Act 2003. There are significant resource implications, but it is very difficult to quantify these yet.
_________________________________________________________________________
Quality of life implications – social, environmental & economic (sustainable development):

Natural Resource Use
Pollution Prevention and Control
Biodiversity and Nature
Local Environment
Social Inclusion
Safe, Healthy and Active Communities
Local Economy
N/A
Positive
N/A
Positive
Positive
Positive
Positive

E-Government implications:

The Council has implemented a workflow computer system which is intended to be available on the Council’s web site and to be fully e-government compliant in the near future. This will allow for applications to be made and viewed on-line.

Resource and legal implications:

There are immediate resource implications in the report, and the Council has made a provision in the 2005/06 estimates for an increased deficit on the cost of the Licensing service of 50,000. The Government has recently produced the final fee regulations following consultation with local government, which has produced some improvement on the projected income to the Council, but it is still unlikely that it will cover the Council’s costs. As explained in previous reports, it is difficult to forecast with precision the income from fees, particularly from personal licence applications, because of the difficulty in predicting the numbers of applications. With premises applications and income, again it is difficult to predict, although it is likely that this could be in the region of 100,000 in the initial conversion period and around 80,000 renewal fees each year after that. There are significant staffing resource implications both in the direct administration of licensing applications, in the arrangements for supporting sub-committee hearings for both committee and legal staff and for Environmental Health and Building Control staff.

_________________________________________________________________________

Licensing Act Sub-Committees

1. The decisions on individual personal licensing applications are largely delegated to the officers. However, with premises applications where representations are received from responsible authorities such as the Police or Fire Service, or from people living in the vicinity of applications, these decisions have to be made by a Sub-Committee of members.

Composition of Sub-Committees

2. The legislation and Government regulations are extremely prescriptive, and the Sub-Committees that will make the decisions on these applications have to consist of three members. The only discretion for the Committee is whether it will permit a quorum of two members.

Effect on Licensing and Regulatory Main Committee (the Parent Committee)

3. Some Councils have chosen to appoint a totally separate committee to deal with Licensing Act 2003 issues. However, the structure set up in Waverley of the Licensing and Regulatory Committee covering both the 2003 Act and previous licensing functions adopted in Waverley seems less complex, but it would be advisable in future to distinguish on the main Committee’s agenda those matters which relate to the 2003 Act and those which cover other licensing matters.

Appointment to the Sub-Committees

4. Most estimates of the numbers of applications that are likely to be contested suggest that there will be a need for a large number of Sub-Committee meetings. The estimates range from around 50 in a borough the size of Waverley, to estimates of around 250 in the case of an authority such as Guildford Borough Council. This would imply that during the period between now and November 2005 when such Sub-Committees will have to meet, the Sub-Committees could at times be meeting several times a week. Again, practice seems to vary as to whether each Sub-Committee meeting will deal with only one application, but it seems likely that dealing with any more than two or three applications at a meeting would be impractical.

5. On this basis, it seems prudent for the Licensing and Regulatory Committee to appoint five Sub-Committees of three members. This could be done purely on a rota basis, with a Sub-Committee A, B, C, D and E meeting in rotation on designated weeks. This would help members plan their diary commitments.

6. The members on these Sub-Committees will have to be available for daytime meetings, and possibly also for evening meetings, if the volume of contested applications increases and additional meetings have to be scheduled.


Date and Time of Meetings

7. The draft calendar of meetings adopted by the Executive allows for a meeting of one of the Sub-Committees every Thursday morning. It could be possible that these will need to be extended into either afternoons and possibly evenings on Thursday, but that may cause difficulty because Thursday evenings are generally well used by Town and Parish Councils for their meetings.

8. Thus members appointed to Sub-Committees will have to be available to attend meetings during the day. Sometimes this might be at quite short notice, to meet the Council’s decision-making time specified in the legislation (three months for personal licences and two months for premises licences).

Terms of Reference

9. Draft terms of reference for the Licensing and Regulatory Committee and the Licensing Sub-Committees are set out at Annexe 1, and the officers recommend that these be incorporated in the Council’s constitution. The proposed scheme was originally published and circulated as an attachment to the Council’s Draft Statement of Licensing Policy. Unusually, this envisages no direct role in determining individual applications for the parent committee. However, any issues relating to procedures or the licensing policy would still be dealt with by the parent committee.

Delegation

10. A suggested scheme of delegation to the Chief Executive is set out at Annexe 2. This is based on the Government’s recommended scheme of delegation set out in the guidance issued under the Licensing Act 2003 by the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport.

Training for Members

11. Surrey Police have offered to arrange a tour of one or more town centres on a weekend evening to enable members to familiarise themselves with aspects of the night-time economy. Officers will also be arranging a briefing on Sub-Committee meeting procedures, which will add to the session given by James Button in November 2004. Members may want to invite representatives of key partner organisations, including Surrey Police and Surrey Fire and Rescue Service, to their next meeting on 11th April to talk about general issues.

Procedures for Sub-Committee Meetings

12. Meetings of Sub-Committees are effectively what is generally described as quasi-judicial. This type of meeting is difficult to define precisely in legal terms, but the essence of it is that the Council is acting in a far more formal and judicial style of decision-making than is normal at meetings of other Committees or the Executive. It also has to be borne in mind that the bulk of the new licensing responsibilities are being transferred from the Magistrates Court, where proceedings are fully judicial. Applicants, and to some extent objectors, may be anticipating a much higher degree of quasi-judicial formality than is customary at Waverley meetings.

13. However, fundamentally the Sub-Committees are still Sub-Committees of Waverley and the Council is committed to make these as accessible and comprehensible as possible both to applicants and to the public. A semi-formal procedure note will be made available to all participants when there is to be a hearing. A draft note will be submitted to the next meeting.
Resource Implications

14. As explained above, there are significant resource implications in the transfer of functions to the Council. The administration of straight-forward applications will in itself be quite onerous, in that the workload is expected to be as follows:-

a) Premises Licences

15. There are around 500 licensed premises in Waverley Borough, consisting of public houses, restaurants, clubs, entertainment venues (theatrical/cinema), and others, including late night refreshment establishments.

16. It is anticipated that all these premises will apply for at least a successor licence under “grandfather provisions” or they may apply both for these and for a variation to take advantage of the possibility for extended hours and a broader range of activities contained in the 2003 Act.

17. The officers’ estimate is that there will be at least one personal licence holder attached to each of these premises where the sale of alcohol is involved. Both Surrey Police and Waverley officers are keen to ensure that, as suggested in the Government Guidance, larger alcohol premises have more than one personal licence holder so that there is usually a personal licence holder present at the premises when alcohol is being sold. However, it is difficult to predict how many applications for personal licences will be made in total. The minimum is thus around 500, and the maximum could be over 1,000.

18. Administering this number of applications within the period of time from February to November 2005 will pose considerable challenges. Currently one full-time temporary Administrative Assistant has been appointed, but it may be that additional resources will be needed.

Recommendation

The Committee is recommended to

1. appoint five Licensing Sub-Committees consisting of three members each, with a quorum of two members, and to agree a pattern for these to meet;

2. adopt the terms of reference set out in Annexe 1;

3. adopt the additions to the scheme of delegation set out in Annexe 2; and

4. ask the Officers to submit draft procedure rules to a future meeting.
________________________________________________________________________
Background Papers (Cex)

Guidance issued by the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport under the Licensing Act 2003.
________________________________________________________________________
CONTACT OFFICER:

Name: Robin Pellow Telephone: 01483 523222
E-mail: rpellow@waverley.gov.uk
comms/lic/04-05/050