Public Consultation on Revised Statement of Licensing Policy

Closes 19 Sep 2021

Opened 28 Jun 2021

Overview

The Council, as the Licensing Authority under the Licensing Act 2003, is now undertaking a consultation process to review and update its Statement of Licensing Policy.

As such, we would like to hear views from local businesses, local residents and responsible authorities on the Draft Licensing Policy 2021-2026.

Background to the consultation

Under the Licensing Act 2003, we, as the licensing authority, are responsible for licensing premises within the borough for:

  • The sale of alcohol, for consumption both on and off the premises
  • The provision of regulated entertainment
  • The sale of hot food and hot (non-alcoholic) drink late at night

Premises such as pubs, clubs, restaurants, hotels and grocers/newsagents selling alcohol require a licence under this legislation, as do late night takeaways.

We are required to produce a Statement of Licensing Policy which sets out our approach to licensing in the borough. The policy gives clear guidance of our policies and expectations to licence holders, applicants, and people who may comment on licence applications or seek reviews of licences. Legally, we are obliged to consider our Statement of Licensing Policy when deciding opposed licence applications or applications for review. If any of our decisions are appealed to a Magistrates Court, the court must also consider the policy when deciding whether the original decision was correct.

There are four Licensing Objectives under the Licensing Act 2003, which are:

  • Prevention of crime and disorder
  • Public safety
  • Prevention of public nuisance
  • Protection of children from harm

The Licensing Authority can only have regard to matters that relate to one or more of the Licensing Objectives listed above when determining its Statement of Licensing Policy.

Cumulative Impact Assessment

Cumulative Impact Assessments (CIA) were introduced into legislation by the Policing and Crime Act 2017 and came into effect on the 6th April 2018. Councils are required to carry out an  assessment of their area, a Cumulative Impact Assessment, to decide whether there are any parts of the borough where there are significant numbers of licensed premises and where they are having an adverse effect on one or more of the licensing objectives. A Cumulative Impact Assessment (CIA) is a special policy consideration and must form part of the Council’s Licensing Policy.

A cumulative impact policy in any area may relate to all licensed premises types, or to one type only such as those selling alcohol for consumption off the premises only.

The evidence underpinning the adoption of a special policy on cumulative impact must be robust and suitable as a basis for a decision to refuse an application and to withstand any appeal against the decision of the Licensing Committee to refuse an application.

Prior to 2018 a Licensing Authority was able to adopt a Cumulative Impact Policy although there was no explicit legislative provision to do so. At that time the adoption of such a Policy created a ‘rebuttable presumption’ that applications for new or variation premises licences or club premises certificates (for premises within the cumulative impact area) would be refused unless the applicant could demonstrate that the granting of the application would not have a negative cumulative impact on one or more of the licensing objectives.  However, the Policing and Crime Act 2017 does not stipulate how the cumulative impact assessment should be used once published. Consequently, the requirements for determining new or variation applications are the same in areas with a cumulative impact assessment as they are elsewhere. But the licensing authority, responsible authorities and others can have regard to the CIA when deciding whether to make a representation to the Licensing Committee.

The Council has carried out a cumulative impact analysis of its area and based upon the evidence available so far it is proposed to consult on the proposition that:

  • There is sufficient evidence available to retain of the existing cumulative impact area of Richmond Town Centre – all licence types
  • There is sufficient evidence available to retain the existing cumulative impact area of Twickenham Town Centre – all licence types
  • It is not appropriate at this time to include any other area of the borough in the Cumulative Impact Assessment.

Proposed amendments to the existing Licensing Policy

The draft proposed policy largely mirrors the existing Policy which has generally worked well in promoting the licensing objectives across the borough. The opportunity has been taken:


(i)  to remove sections that merely re-iterate legislation;
(ii) to add a new Glossary at the start of the Policy that explains terminology contained within the body of the Policy;
(iii) to try to make the Policy clearer to read by making drafting changes;
(iv) to refer the reader to the Council’s website to gain more information about the Council’s policies and strategies instead of trying to paraphrase them in an Appendix to the Policy (paragraphs 2.1 and 2.2);
(v) to include a paragraph on public health and the role of the public health team in licensing decision making (paragraph 3.4);
(vi) to expand the section profiling the borough (paragraphs 4.1 – 4.5);
(vii)  to expand the matters that applicants are urged to consider when drawing up their operating schedules to reflect the representations commonly received from the Responsible Authorities (Sections 13-16);
(viii) to remove all suggested conditions but, instead, refer to model conditions that are currently being drawn up and will be posted on the Council’s website;
(ix) to add a new Appendix confirming delegations of licensing decisions and functions.

However, it is proposed to introduce a number of new additions to the Policy:


(i) To explicitly state the purpose of the Policy and the main principles underpinning the Policy (paragraphs 6.1-6.6).
(ii) Introduce a new section on the promotion of equality (Paragraph 9.1).
(iii) To add a new section on Licensing Hours (section 17) which makes it clear that the Authority has not adopted a terminal hour policy in any part of the borough but instead will look at all applications on their individual merits and may restrict trading hours if there is good reason to do so.
(iv) To lay out the enforcement protocol that officers will follow (Section 19).
(v) To allow an applicant to show a film that has not been classified by the British Board of Film Classification if they present special circumstances to do so. In such circumstances the film must, instead, be classified by licensing officers of the Council. In all such cases at least 2 months’ notice must be given, and the applicant must pay a fee. (paragraph 16.12).
(vi) The Policy now urges applicants to apply for a Temporary Event Notice at least two months in advance of the event to allow time for the police and Council officers to investigate whether there may be issues that could then be addressed in plenty of time for the event to be advertised with confidence (paragraph 22.8).

How to respond
Please read the Draft Statement of Licensing Policy and give us your views using the online survey link below.
If you require paper copies of any of the consultation documents or any other format, please contact us at licensing@merton.gov.uk or call 020 8274 4901.

Alternatively you can email your comments to licensing@merton.gov.uk or send written responses to:

 Licensing Section (LB Richmond), Regulatory Services Partnership, Merton Civic Centre, London Road, Surrey SM4 5DX

Any comments you send should clearly state your name, any organisation or persons you may be responding on behalf of and your address. Please state that your comments relate to L.B. Richmond Licensing Policy Statement.

The consultation runs until the 19 September 2021.

Next steps

We will then consider all the responses and amend the proposed policy as appropriate. The updated policy will then be considered by the Regulatory Committee and by full Council later this year.

Give Us Your Views

Areas

  • All Areas

Audiences

  • Open to all

Interests

  • Richmond Borough