Licensing Act 2003 Changes
The Select Committee on the Licensing Act 2003 has published it’s post-legislative scrutiny report. They took into account evidence provided by witnesses and from web submissions and even attended a sub-committee hearing. They make a series of recommendations; some, none or all of which may be accepted.
They noted that here has been a piecemeal approach to amending the enactment; and done so via 9 Acts of Parliament, secondary legislation and through amendments to section 182 Guidance. There was a desire to consolidate.
There was also much criticism of the quality of the administrative and decision making processes was made. The professionalism and knowledge of the of licensing committee members is questioned and a tendency to bow to the authority of the police highlighted. The Select Committee states: “clearly reform is essential”.
The potential remedy offered is an alignment of the licensing regime to the planning system. Evidence was taken on the possibility of integrating licensing process into the planning process. There were concerns expressed by individuals pointing out that the two systems were different regimes serving different purposes. However, the Committee asks us to “look at licensing as an extension of the planning process”.
Here are a summary of the changes proposed:
Planning Regime & Appeals
- The functions of the licensing committees and sub-committees should be transferred to the planning committees. A trial should pilot the transfer.
- Licensing appeals should be heard by the Planning Inspectorate rather than magistrates.
- When settling an appeal (often involving mediation between parties) licensing authorities should publicise their reasons that led to the settlement.
- An agent of change principle be introduced into planning and licensing guidance to protect existing businesses from new developments made in the vicinity.
- Licensing Committees should take planning decisions into account.
Standards & Training
- Whilst the change to Committees are being made Councillors who sit on Licensing Committees should be trained in licensing matters and procedures. Secretary of State’s guidance will set out minimum requirements for training.
- The College of Policing should consider developing their own training for police officers exercising responsible authority roles. The role of police licensing officer need not be undertaken by sworn police officers.
- Cumulative Impact Policies should be made statutory.
- EMRO (early morning restriction orders) and Late Night Levies may be repealed.
- Minimum unit pricing in Scotland should be reviewed after implementation with a view to introducing a MUP in England and Wales if it is shown to have been successful.
Applications & Fees
- Advertisements should no longer be required in local newspapers but be featured on Council websites.
- Applications for new premises licences should include a statement relating to disabled access and faciities.
- Licensing Authorities, like Police and EHOs, should be given the power to object to TENs (Temporary Event Notices).
- Licensing fees should be set locally not nationally.
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