Licensing Act 2003 Committee (Wirral Council) 7th November 2012

A report of the Licensing Act 2003 Committee of Wirral Council of the 7th November 2012, Interest Declarations, Minutes (25th July 2012), Result of consultation on draft statememt of principles (Gambling Act 2005), classification of Small Creatures (Light Cinema, New Brighton)

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Licensing Act 2003 Committee (Wirral Council) 7th November 2012

Cllr Bill Davies (Chair), Labour
Cllr Rob Gregson (Labour)
Cllr John Salter (Labour)
Cllr Harry Smith (Labour)
Cllr Steve Niblock (Labour)
Cllr Denise Roberts (Labour)
Cllr Mike Hornby (Conservative)
Cllr Adam Sykes (Conservative)
Cllr Dave Mitchell (Liberal Democrat)

Council officers
Anne Beauchamp (Committee Officer)
Margaret O’Donnell (Licensing Manager)
Ken Abraham (Legal adviser)
Unknown officer (male)

In attendance
Cllr Geoffrey Watt

John & Leonora Brace

The meeting started with Cllr Dave Mitchell (Lib Dem) giving apologies for Cllr Pat Williams (Lib Dem). The meeting was interrupted by the tune of an ice cream van, which the Chair, Cllr Bill Davies made a joke about, he went on to say that there were a number of meetings going on of different committees and that a number of councillors had sent their apologies. Apologies had been received from Cllrs McCubbin, Davies (George), Leech and Williams (Pat). He said he had a quick Any Other Business and asked if he could sign the minutes?

Agenda Item 1 Declarations of Interest 1:09 to 1:30
Cllr Niblock asked if he could declare a personal interest as a member of Merseyside Fire and Rescue Authority in item 3.
Cllr Denise Roberts also declared a personal interest as a member of Merseyside Fire and Rescue Authority in item 3.

Agenda Item 2 (Minutes) 1:30 to 1:50
The minutes of the meeting held on the 25th July 2012 were agreed.


The Chair asked Margaret O’Donnell (Licensing Manager) to talk about this item. She said the Committee had agreed a draft statement in July which had gone out to consultation, which had closed on the 31st October [2012].

At this point a Council Officer arrived.

Margaret O’Donnell continued that they had received one response which was attached at appendix 3, there were no specific direct comments so no amendments had been made to the draft since July, she said the purpose of the evening was to seek approval, then it would go to full Council on 17th December [2012] and was to be revised no later than January 2013.

Cllr Niblock referred to page 15 3.3 in the reference to “Merseyside Fire and Rescue Service Authority” which should read Merseyside Fire and Rescue Authority. He pointed out a minor error where a full stop should be a comma and asked a question about page 31 about bingo being played in a member’s club.

Margaret was about to answer his points but Cllr Niblock went on to point out page 36, 21.2 apologising and saying he meant 27.3 and the phrase “will be decided on a case by case individual basis”, which he thought should either be case by case or individual.

Cllr Harry Smith agreed with him.

Cllr Niblock went on to point out that certain proper nouns such as Licensing Authority needed to be capitalised but were all in lower case.

Margaret O’Donnell said she would ask it to be looked at.

Cllr Harry Smith said, “Who are we going to shoot?”

Cllr Hornby asked a question about CRB checks and qualifications for door supervisors?

The Chair said that they used to interview door supervisors.

Margaret O’Donnell said that [door supervisors] were covered by the Security Industry Agency and they had to go through a process to be licensed.

Cllr John Salter asked if they had consulted the Chief of Police and if the Police had made comments?

Margaret O’Donnell confirmed the police had made no comments.

The Chair commented about training, the three meetings on tonight and that they were looking for alternative dates. As there were no further questions, the recommendation to the Council meeting of the 17th December of the Draft Statement of Gambling Principles was agreed.

Classification of unclassified film “Small Creatures” (Light Cinema, New Brighton)

The Chair said there was one item of Any Other Business which Margaret would explain.

Margaret thanked the Chair for allowing this item of Any Other Business. She said it was in respect of the classification of a film in accordance with guidance issued by the British Board of Film Classification, as they had a cinema in New Brighton called the Light Cinema which wanted to show an unclassified film. She said they were obliged to protect children from harm. She said she received an email on the 6th November from a gentleman who wanted to show it during anti-bullying week (the week starting the 19th November), she said it had been classified by Liverpool Licensing Authority, she said the film related to anti bullying, an individual called Martin Wallace wanted to show the film Small Creatures and had submitted a synopsis and was classified as a 15 by Liverpool City Council screening at FACT. She read out a synopsis about the film. She said there was discrimination of a homophobic nature, on-screen cannabis smoking, no horror in the film, reference to two instances of self-harm, but brief, it had strong occasional language, no nudity but occasional references to sex, crime and occasional violence (a school fight on a field) and a stabbing on camera.

Cllr Harry Smith asked if there was a moral ending?

Margaret O’Donnell said the film was about 89 minutes long.

Cllr Harry Smith referred to possible abuse.

Margaret O’Donnell suggested it could be delegated to a subcommittee, who would then have the chance to view the film.

Cllr Harry Smith asked again if there was a moral ending?

Margaret said that the 14-year-old boy ignored the advice of his teachers and gets involved in knife crime, there’s then a stabbing.

Cllr Harry Smith said he was “disappointed with the ending of the film”.

Margaret said the key thing was the classification and if people should be permitted to go see it.

Cllr Niblock asked if Liverpool City Council had just classified it based on a synopsis, as what it looked like might not be like what’s written on paper. Margaret O’Donnell responded. She said they hadn’t been able to establish how Liverpool City Council had come to its decision.

Cllr Sykes referred to the guidance, Margaret O’Donnell responded by reading out what the British Board of Film Classification see as a 15 classification, during this Cllr Andrew Hodson arrived at 5:47pm for the 6pm meeting. Another councillor arrived at 5:48pm for the 6pm meeting.

Cllr Sykes asked if it would be shown as part of anti-bullying week? Margaret nodded.

Cllr Gregson made some comments.
Cllr Salter wanted something written down.
Cllr Gregson asked about the Liverpool decision.
Margaret O’Donnell said she was seeking the “general view of the Committee” and that she was more than satisfied to report back. She said the email had put them in a difficult position, if it hadn’t been for the meeting she’d have suggested setting up a subcommittee, which would depend on the availability of councillors, she said she would report back the comments made this evening and it was a matter for the applicant if they wanted to pursue it further.

Cllr Hornby said it depended on how the film was directed, which can be misunderstood. He said, “I don’t like the idea of we giving carte blanche to something because someone else across the river said, “It’s OK.”” Cllr Hornby said it was his view it had to be done through a subcommittee.

Cllr Harry Smith said he was really worried there was no moralising end to it and referred to what happened to the baddies at the end of Grange Hill.

Cllr Hornby referred to direction.

Cllr Mitchell agreed that it should be delegated to a subcommittee, who would get the information prior to the meeting, she said it’s to coincide with anti bullying week.

Cllr Roberts asked if the Liverpool councillors seen the film? She said it was no worse than books for teenagers.

The Chair said at his discretion a member of the public has indicated they wish to say something and that he will allow it.

Declaration of interest: The member of the public is my wife and writes and edits for this blog.

Mrs. Brace thanked the Chair for letting her speak. She said that similar types of films had been banned, but if it did go ahead she thought that only people aged over 18 should go and watch it.

The Chair thanked Mrs. Brace for her comments.

Shirley Hudspeth arrived.

The Chair said he thought a decision had been made and it would go to a subcommittee. It was agreed to delegate the decision to a subcommittee.

Shirley Hudspeth arrived.

The Chair closed the meeting and said that the Licensing, Health & Safety and General Purposes Committee would start in five minutes.