The recently published House of Lords report on post-legislative scrutiny of The Licensing Act 2003, makes interesting (and in some cases baffling) reading. The main recommendations made by their Lordships are as follows: –

  • Compulsory training for Councillors sitting on Licensing Committees, and the Guidance being amended to introduce a standard to which that training should attain
  • A pilot trial in some councils creating a merger of Licensing and Planning Committees. This idea is not a merger of licensing and planning, but rather Councillors who sit on Planning Committees to consider licensing applications using the methods as planning committees and with the same support that they already have to deal with planning applications.   This may include officer recommendations to grant or refuse
  • Licensing Committees should take into account and, where appropriate, follow any relevant decision made by a Planning Committee
  • Appeals to be heard by an equivalent of The Planning Inspectorate, rather than the lengthy Magistrates’ Courts process currently in place
  • Magistrates’ to be given powers to better supervise Police powers on Closure Orders, and Summary / Expedited Reviews
  • A review of how the off-trade sells alcohol in England and Wales with a mind to replicating the ‘Scotland model’
  • Early Morning Restriction Orders should be repealed
  • Late Night Levies also repealed and, if not, the pending amendments to Levies should be reviewed If they do continue, Police ‘profit’ to be cut to 50%
  • A minimum unit price should be introduced in England and Wales – if it comes in in Scotland and, if an assessment show it to be successful
  • Licensing Authorities should publicise the reasons which lead them to settle an appeal, and should “hesitate to compromise if they are effectively reversing an earlier decision, which residents and others intervening may have thought they could rely on”
  • Removal of the local newspaper application advertisement requirement to be replaced by notices given prominently by online notification systems run by the Licensing Authority.
  • The law should be amended to require, an application for a Premises Licence to include a disabled access and facilities statement
  • Licensing Authorities to be given the power to object to Temporary Event Notices.
  • Community and Ancillary Sellers Notices should be repealed rather than introduced
  • Paragraph 9.12 of the Guidance which provides Licensing Authorities should “accept all reasonable and proportionate representations made by the Police unless the Authority has evidence that to do so would not be appropriate for the promotion of the licensing objectives” should be removed
  • Backs the Government’s plans to place Cumulative Impact Policies onto a statutory footing
  • Instead of the amendment which is about to be introduced so that Licensing Sub-Committees reconsider the interim steps on a full review, it would be preferable if the Sub-Committee had the discretion to impose with immediate effect its determination reached at the full review;
  • Locally set licensing fees
  • A National Database of Personal Licence Holders to be created and linked to the Police National Database;
  • The Licensing Act be amended so that it applies ‘airside’ and ‘portside’

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