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 STATUTORY LICENSING COMMITTEE

 

Minutes of a meeting held on 26th July, 2016.

 

Present:  Councillor A.G. Powell (Chairman); Councillor H.C. Hamilton (Vice-Chairman); Councillors G.A. Cox, Mrs. P. Drake, Mrs. V.M. Hartrey, K. Hatton, Mrs. A. Moore, Ms. R.F. Probert, R.P. Thomas, Mrs. M.R. Wilkinson and C.J. Williams.

 

 

226            APOLOGIES FOR ABSENCE – 

 

These were received from Councillors E. Hacker, N. Moore, Mrs. A.J. Preston and J.W. Thomas.

 

 

227            MINUTES –

 

RESOLVED – T H A T the minutes of the meeting held on 7th June, 2016 be approved as a correct record.

 

 

228            DECLARATIONS OF INTEREST – 

 

No declarations were received.

 

 

229            LICENSING ACT 2003 STATEMENT OF LICENSING POLICY 2016-2021 (DEH) –

 

The Committee received a report on the Draft Statement of Licensing Policy which was the subject of a statutory consultation period between 15th June and 19th July, 2016.

 

The Licensing Act 2003 places a duty on Local Authorities to develop a Statement of Licensing Policy that promotes the licensing objectives: 

  • The prevention of crime and disorder
  • Public Safety
  • Prevention of Public Nuisance
  • The Protection of Children from Harm

A list of consultees was included in Section Four of the policy and a Public Notice of the consultation was published on the Vale of Glamorgan Council website.

 

A list of the responses with proposed amendments to the Draft Statement of Licensing Policy was attached at Appendix A to the report.

 

The amended Draft Statement of Licensing Policy for the five year period 2016 - 2021 was attached at Appendix B to the report.

 

The Licensing Team Manager informed the Committee that there had been four responses to the consultation which were attached to the report at Appendix A. The responses received were from the following: 

  • Councillor David Moody Jones – Peterston Super Ely Community Council
  • Councillor R.J. Bertin – Vale of Glamorgan Council Elected Member
  • Barry Town Council
  • Josef Prygodzicz – Public Health Wales.

As a result of the consultation response two amendments to the draft policy had been suggested. Following on from Barry Town Council response it was suggested that ‘Town and Community Councils’ were added to the list of examples of representatives within the ‘Review’ section of the policy. As a result of the response from Public Health Wales it was proposed that, as Cardiff and the Vale of Glamorgan Councils both came under the remit of the Cardiff and Vale UHB, the explanatory paragraphs supplied by the UHB explaining its role as a Responsible Authority be included in the Vale of Glamorgan’s Policy at the end of Section 8 covering “Representations”.  The proposed amendments were detailed in full within Appendix A to the report.

 

Following presentation of the report, a discussion took place during which the following matters were raised:

 

Matters   raised by Members

Responses

When a licence was renewed, was it automatically  reviewed, and would information in relation to injuries emanating from the   licensed premises be automatically included within that review? 

The Licensing Team Manager   advised that licences are granted for an indefinite period and therefore   would not automatically be reviewed, however any Responsible Authority or   person can ask for the review of a licence.    This usually occurred when a premises had significant problems which   had not been resolved through the Responsible Authorities, otherwise a   licence would last indefinitely. 

Are the triggers for the   review of a licence less stringent than previously?

 

The Operational Manager   advised they were not, they remained the same. Reviews tended to result from   concerns from the public or Responsible Authorities which usually involved   issues such as antisocial behaviour or the concerns around the licensing   objectives. 

How would the Licensing   Authority encourage greater community involvement, which was a key aim of the   Licensing Act 2003? The Member expressed the view that the public was often   not aware of licence applications in their immediate area, as notices were   scant and information not easily available. Furthermore, there was no obligation   to advise neighbours near a premises that an application had been made.

 

Was it possible for the   Authority to write to residents to inform them of licence applications in   their area? 

The Legal Officer advised   that there were certain requirements in relation to the advertisement of   applications that needed to be carried out statutorily. All Local Members   were contacted when there was a new licensing application in their ward.   There would be cost implications if all neighbours were to be sent letters.  The Licensing Authority had a strict   procedure to follow, and if this was not followed it would affect the   granting of a licence.

How would the Licensing   Authority ensure greater community involvement?

The Operational Manager for   Neighbourhood Services advised that the Licensing Authority was required to   follow a statutory process and there was facility within this process for greater   community involvement to allow the public to feed into the decision making   process.  Local Authorities are obliged   to consult Members as part of the process, however he was not aware of any Local   Authorities that went the extra mile by sending letters to all neighbouring   properties as was done in the Planning process. 

 

If there was an issue when   a licence is granted, the mechanism for calling for a review of a licence was   fairly straightforward. A licence can be called in for review by Members, and   local residents can be involved in the process through their local Member. Residents   can also call for a licence review and have their voice heard via this   process.

Were Town and Community   Councils informed of licensing applications as a matter of course?

Yes. 

If local residents missed   notices or the Town or Community Council did not relay information relating   to licensing applications in the local vicinity, people would be unable to   object as they were unaware of an application. 

A Member advised that the   review process was a safety net, if any of the four licensing objectives were   being contravened by a premises; then any individual does have the right to   call for a review of the licence, and a licence can be withdrawn if there is   a breach of any of the four licensing objectives.

If stronger measures in   relation to community involvement were not stipulated within the Statement of   Licensing Policy, how would greater community involvement in the licensing   process be encouraged?

The Legal Officer advised   that the document was a policy statement. The Licensing Authority followed a   statutory process which was aimed at supporting people.

 

The Operational Manager advised   that the document was a statement which reflected the general ethos of the   Licensing Act and how it operated and was perhaps not reflective of exactly   what the Authority did over and above the statutory requirements.  He advised that having attended many   licensing reviews, he was of the view that residents and communities did have   a good mechanism through which they could give their own testaments, which could   be done through local Members or in person at public protection   committees. 

Writing to neighbours to   advise of applications in their area was a reasonable request.  There would be a cost but it would not be   too great if letters were only sent to the immediate neighbours. 

 

If a licence was called in   for review, who would be responsible for bringing the evidence from   neighbours’ complaints to the review?

The Legal Officer advised that   if there was a complaint made about a licensed premises, in order to encourage   greater community involvement, the Licensing Authority would provide support and   assistance to individuals during the process, for example with diaries and   statements, and work actively with the Police, particularly in relation to   issues of crime and disorder and would encourage the community as a whole.  The Statement of Licensing Policy was a   general Statement about how the Authority would bring about greater community   involvement and the exact approach taken would depend on a case by case basis. 

The Licensing Authority could   strengthen the involvement of Town and Community Councils to encourage   greater community involvement in the Licensing decisions.

 

A Member expressed the view   that his Ward was very rural and therefore it would be difficult to write to   the neighbours. He felt that working with the Town and Community Council on   these issues worked well and concurred that their role in the process could   be strengthened to be more proactive.

 

The Operational Manager for   Neighbourhood Services advised that any greater community involvement should be   welcomed, however the Authority would need to decide which neighbours to   write to. Furthermore, the Authority received a lot of applications and there   was no statutory guidance on this matter.    He suggested that officers could look at other Local Authorities to   see how they managed the process and come back to the Committee and see how   the Policy could be bolstered in this area.   

The Authority could look at   working with other Licensing Authorities to see how the Council could increase local involvement in the process.

 

The statement should   include greater detail about how increased community involvement would be   achieved. Community involvement should take place prior to Licensing   decisions being made.

 

The Licensing team could   look at the process used in the Planning department in terms of consulting   neighbours.

 

Could it be included within   the document that the Licensing Authority would write to neighbours in regard   to applications in their area as is done by Planning?

 

 

There was a contrast   between the Planning and Licensing processes in that neighbours were notified   if there was a planning application in their area, but this was not the case   in the licensing process, yet licensing could cause huge disruption.  The public had difficulty getting through   to the Police 101 line at night and the Police force was stretched to full   capacity and unable to provide more support. The public was unaware that they   needed to contact the Council in relation to Licensing problems.  If no complaints were reported, a complaint   would be dealt with as a new issue and not taken seriously.

 

 

The Operational Manager   advised that the Statement of Licensing Policy was a policy statement   intended to support the aims of the Licensing Act. It was not supposed to   detail exactly how this would be done. The main issue concerned the paragraph   relating to greater community involvement, the Committee could review the way   it was worded and look at how the Licensing Act aimed to deliver greater   community involvement.

 

The Legal Officer advised   that if an extra layer was added into the policy, it could open the system up   to potential problems in trying to carry out the Licensing function. For   example, how would ‘local resident’ be defined? If this were to be stipulated   within the policy and was not done, the Authority would be non-compliant with   its policy. The policy was a general statement; however these types of issues   could be looked at outside of the policy.

 

The Operational Manager   reiterated that the statements within the draft policy were general   statements. They could look at additional consultation measures, which could   include the use of social media and report back to the Committee. He also   advised that any costs involved in writing to residents could not be   recovered, but he was happy to go away and look at the practices of other   Local

Authorities around   statutory obligations

in this area and options to   bolster this aspect of the policy. If the policy was amended it would need to   be consulted on again. He advised that the report could also include   operational statistics for the Licensing department in the last 12 months,   such as applications received, licences issued and renewed.

 

Other departments, such as   Cleansing, wrote out to the public when needed, the cost couldn’t be too great   and local Members could deliver them to the immediate neighbours. The   Council’s website could be used, with links to Licensing matters in the   different wards. The feeling of the room was that the Authority should   improve its communication in this area.

 

 

Following consideration of the report and the matters discussed, the Committee

 

RESOLVED –

 

(1)       T H A T the proposed amendments to the draft Statement of Licensing Policy 2016-2021 be approved.

 

(2)       T H A T the amended Statement of Licensing Policy be referred for comment to Cabinet and to Council for approval on 28th September, 2016.

 

(3)       T H A T a report be drafted in relation to how the Licensing Authority can encourage greater community involvement in the Licensing process, taking into account the approach of other Local Authorities, and the report be brought to a future meeting of the Statutory Licensing Committee for consideration.

 

Reasons for decisions

 

(1&2)  Section 5 of the Licensing Act 2003 requires a Licensing Authority to determine its Policy with respect to the exercise of its licensing functions and to publish a statement of that policy.  The determination of the Statement of Licensing Policy is a Council function.

 

(3)       In order to provide the Committee with information in relation to the approach of other Local Authorities on this matter and to provide Members with assurance that the Licensing Authority was encouraging greater community involvement in the licensing process.

 

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