Agenda item - Annual Report of Licensing Authority 2017

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Agenda item

Annual Report of Licensing Authority 2017

Report of the Executive Director, Neighbourhoods, Communities and Housing (copy attached)


28.1    The Committee considered a report of the Executive, Director, Neighbourhoods, Communities and Housing detailing the licensing and gambling functions carried out by the Council during 2017. Matters arising at local level were set in the context of national legislation and any changes to it.


28.2    It was noted that at the time the report was written the total number of licensed premises and club premises in Brighton and Hove had been 1392 and 34 respectively. Large spread sheets setting out the information included in the report were circulated for the benefit of Members. Councillor Simson sought clarification of the figures included and the reason that the figures contained in the report did not completely equate to one another. Several Members whilst commending the report also queried why figures which showed a break-down on a ward by ward basis had not been provided. It was explained that had been provided for the Chair’s meeting but that it had been decided subsequently that this information was so detailed that it could be difficult to extrapolate overall trends as it could be considered to be impenetrable. This information could be provided to individual members in respect of their ward on request. Members were of the view that their preference would be to receive this more detailed information in future reports and in a manner that made it clear what the year on year trends were.


28.3    The level of interest shown in relation to the temporary renewal of Uber’s licence which had been extended for as further six months had attracted widespread interest and the Chair’s earlier comments regarding when this application would be coming forward for consideration at a Non-Licensing Panel Hearing (23 April 2018) were noted.


28.4    The work of the Alcohol Programme Board and the action plan which had been developed in concert with partners who were involved with that was noted with by members with interest as was the on-going work on sensible on strength and the fact although they had not formally joined the scheme a further 39 retailers had ceased selling higher strength alcohol. Given the issues arising from excessive alcohol use and their impact on the night time economy this was welcomed. Councillor Deane stated that the encouragement of events, particularly during “Freshers” week at the University’s which were not alcohol led or were alcohol free were welcomed; such events should be positively encouraged.


28.5    The Chair, commended the report and the work carried out by the licensing team over the period covered by the report citing in particular the work undertaken in relation to Gambling Inspections  carried out which had  been praised by the Gambling Commission. The council’s practices had been held up as examples of good practice in particular the work and links developed with Public Health in order to tackle gambling related harm. The Regulatory Services Manager, Jim Whitelegg had been asked to make a presentation and lead at a regional workshop held recently as part of the Institute of Licensing Conference. The workshop had been run by the Gambling Commission with the support of the city council at the Civic Hall in Crawley and had provided advice on tackling money laundering and helping gamblers to stay safe using local risk assessments and self-exclusion tools. Local risk assessments helped businesses to ensure that they considered nearby risks, e.g., the close proximity of schools or homeless shelters when conducting their businesses and the self-exclusion scheme was designed to those who wanted to take steps to stop gambling. This represented a great accolade for the Regulatory Services Manager personally and for the authority.


28.6    Councillor Horan referred to the role of the Police stating that when they attended Panel meetings and gave their perspective in terms of noise and other nuisance that was helpful as they had expertise in this field and the input which they were able to give was valuable. Councillor Hyde concurred stating that whilst it had been unhelpful when there had been a period when they had routinely put in “holding” representations in instances where they had concerns which remained and a Panel needed to take place to consider those issues their input was welcomed. Councillor Hyde also referred to the value of Members receiving regular updates on licensing activity within their wards.


28.7    Councillor Simson referred to what appeared to be a significant increase in the number of café bar applications across the city. Councillors Morris, the Deputy Chair, and Deane  stated that this was of concern as all sought to offer alcohol for sale and could result in an increase in the number of premises offering alcohol for sale albeit that it was not for consumption off the premises. There were concerns that this could result in growth by “stealth”. Councillor Deane stated that she was concerned that the café bar conditions were not as robust as they could be and that some applicants were seeking to use this to their advantage.


28.8    Councillor Wares stated that he was particularly concerned regarding the number of applications which impinged on the CIZ/Special Stress Area and Councillor Hyde stated that when the Licensing Act had originally been drawn up the proliferation of premises which currently existed had not been envisaged. Rebecca Sidell, the legal adviser to the Committee explained the framework contained within the SOLP under which applications were considered and to the circumstances under which certain types of premises could be given favourable consideration and those whereby there was a presumption of refusal (CIZ) where exceptions could only be made if there were exceptional circumstances where it could be demonstrated that there would be no detrimental impact on the four licensing objectives. Councillor Hyde responded that it was primarily the proliferation of café bar applications about which members had concerns about and was of the view that it may be timely for this to be addressed radically with a view to there being a presumption of refusal. Councillor Paige concurred that this was an area which might warrant further consideration. Rebecca Sidell, the Legal Adviser to the Committee stated that any change of approach and the basis on which licence applications were decided needed to be evidence based. The Senior Licensing Officer, Sarah Cornell, confirmed that café bar conditions related to waiter/waitress service seated at tables to be accompanied by substantial food, vertical drinking was not permitted and that had not changed.


28.9    Councillor Wares stated that given the concerns expressed that it might be appropriate to review the existing matrix to see what/whether it was appropriate for changes to be made ahead of the next scheduled review date, asking for confirmation whether this could be done. The Legal Adviser to the Committee, Rebecca Sidell confirmed that this could be done but would need to be resourced. Following discussion it was agreed that a further report be submitted to the Committee at its November meeting. The report would look at having consulted the CIZ and the number of café bars across the city. It should be noted that a number of cafe bars had been granted prior to the last twelve month period covered by the current report.


28.10  RESOLVED – (1) That the Committee receives and notes the contents of the report; and


            (2) That officers continue to monitor trends of applications and illegal activity in order to inform future policy and to bring forward a report to the November cycle of Committee covering the areas outlined in paragraph 28.9 above.

Supporting documents:


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