Licensing Act 2003 Committee (Wirral Council) 23/5/2012 Part 2

This continues from Part 1.

Cllr George Davies mentioned that at a community safety meeting, the Area Commander had pointed out that with the football and Olympics over the Summer that alcohol would be more of an issue this year. The councillor said that he’d said that if a minimum tariff of 40p/unit was brought in that this would help.

Margaret said this had already been through the Committee, but the government were likely to announce a change on minimum pricing.

Cllr Mitchell asked that if the legislation changed, were they trapped? Could they continue with the existing policy even if the law had changed?

Margaret O’Donnell said that some parts might need amendments, but the guidance was quite general, so any changes would be brought forward as part of the review. She also pointed out that they had to consult for three months before any amendments were made.

Cllr Hodson asked about no drinking zones. Margaret O’Donnell said that they were looking at enforcement over the Jubilee double bank holiday, which meant existing licences to 11pm were extended to 1am with the same for entertainment on the Friday and Saturday.

Margaret O’Donnell continued with her presentation, detailing who the new responsible authorities would be. In future this would cover the licensing authority, PCT (or local health board), fire service, planning and the existing responsible authorities.

The interested parties test would also be changed from having to live near to the licensed premises to living or being involved with a business in the licensing authority area. She said it was a significant change to the relevant representations, but a licensing officers would look at representations to decide whether they were relevant or vexatious and frivolous. She referred to a case involving Thwaites, where the decision of the licensing subcommittee had been overturned by the Magistrates Court but upheld by the High Court.

The Chair pointed out that licensing meetings were generally held on Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays. They did have the staff to do Monday to Friday if they needed the flexibility.

Margaret O’Donnell pointed that it was essential that the reasons for their decisions were recorded as they could be legally challenged. They couldn’t just refuse a licence without reasons. There was also reform to the amount of notice required for temporary event notices.

There was also changes to the penalty for persistently selling alcohol to children (which was defined as two within three months) from £10000 to £20000, voluntary closure had been extended from two days to two weeks and licences would be suspended for late payments.

She continued by pointing out at the discretion of the licensing authority they could levy a late night levy to cover the additional cost beyond midnight of crime and disorder. If introduced it would apply to every premise in the Borough with 70% of the revenue going to the police.

Alcohol Disorder Zones were being repealed. The Chair asked about music. The answer given was that there were no changes, but later this year legislation would allow live music without a licence. Cllr Hornby recommended training courses to new councillors.

Cllr McCubbin asked if changes to the cumulative impact policy were likely?

Margaret O’Donnell answered his question and councillors were invited to put their names forward for the next panel.

134 Boundary Road, Bidston, CH43 7PH

Author: John Brace

New media journalist from Birkenhead, England who writes about Wirral Council. Published and promoted by John Brace, 134 Boundary Road, Bidston, CH43 7PH. Printed by UK Webhosting Ltd t/a Tsohost, 113-114 Buckingham Avenue, Slough, Berkshire, England, SL1 4PF.