Welcome to our April Licensing Update – a House of Lords ‘special’!
This month’s update conveniently coincides with the publication overnight of the House of Lords report into the workings of the Licensing Act 2013 – but also contains details of other important changes imminently to affect operators. Happy reading!
House of Lords Select Committee on the Licensing Act 2003 – report released
Posted: 03 Apr 2017 09:45 PM PDT
The report of House of Lords Select Committee on the Licensing Act 2003 has just been published. To remind – this House of Lords Select Committee has been conducting post-legislative scrutiny of the Licensing Act, after some ten years.
Headline recommendations include:
- The transfer of the functions of local authority licensing committees and sub-committees to the planning committee (whilst maintaining a separate licensing regime) with greater cohesion between the planning and licensing processes
- Licensing appeals be determined by the planning inspectorate following the same course as planning appeals
- No change to the existing licensing objectives and in particular no introduction of the promotion of health and wellbeing as a licensing objective
- The removal of the requirement to advertise licence applications in the local press
- The belief that it is entirely wrong that police evidence should be given more weight than it deserves solely because of its provenance
- Greater clarity around closure notices
- The provisions relating to Early Morning Restriction Orders (EMROs) be repealed
- The preference for the abolition of Late Night Levies in favour of other measures – especially Business Improvement Districts
- Local licensing authorities should set their own licensing fees
- The creation of a national database of personal licence holders
- The more determined enforcement of the offence of selling to a person who is drunk
- The adoption of Minimum Unit Pricing of alcohol in England and Wales, if successfully introduced in Scotland
The amendments to the Licensing Act in the Immigration Act 2016 are due to come into force on 6 April 2017. Premises and personal licence holders in England and Wales will have their immigration status considered when licences are granted. This will have significant impact on the licence application process and new application forms have been issued which should be used from that date (although we have identified a couple of apparent gremlins which have been flagged with the Home Office).
The detail of those changes and their implications can be found here: https://www.john-gaunt.co.uk/news/immigration-act-2016-and-its-implications-for-licensing-update-and-commencement
The forms are available here: http://www.legislation.gov.uk/uksi/2017/411/contents/made
Posted: 05 Apr 2017 09:00 AM PDT
Also be aware of the changes in this legislation which come into force on 6 April. These provisions include clarification concerning expedited Reviews and the status of interim measures and the ability for a Licensing Authority to suspend or revoke personal licences (following convictions for relevant offences). Proposed changes relating to cumulative impact policies and the Late Night Levy will not be implemented until the Government has considered the recommendation contained in the House of Lords report mentioned above.
By 4 April 2018 all employers with 250 employees or more must publish a gender pay gap report on their website, as soon to be required by the Equality Act 2010 (Gender Pay Gap Information) Regulations 2017, which are expected shortly to receive parliamentary approval. The impact of these requirements will be felt immediately however as 5 April 2017 is a critical trigger date.
This scheme launched last year is apparently gaining traction across the country; believed to have started in Lincolnshire, it is now increasing being promoted elsewhere (Google – ‘ask for Angela’) and it has attracted much media attention. The idea is very simple – it advises anyone who is feeling unsafe on a date to ask the bar staff for “Angela”— a code word alerting the staff that someone is in need of help.
Gloucester City Council has indicated that a decision on whether to introduce a Levy has been postponed until the 24 July 2017, whilst it considers the alternative of adopting a Business Improvement District (BID) to deliver initiatives for a safer night time economy, as an alternative.
Hackney Council is currently running its consultation the adoption of a Late Night Levy (LNL). The consultation runs until 7 May 2017 and seeks views on proposals to introduce a LNL on premises serving alcohol between midnight and 6.00am.
Public Health England has produced a guide to health teams to ‘make sure that licensing policy and applications consider the health and wellbeing of local communities’. The guidance is intended to inform on how directors of public health, who have been included as Responsible Authorities under the Licensing Act since 2013, ‘can actively engage in the licensing process’.
Operators familiar with the Scottish licensing system will be aware of the importance of when a Board sits to consider a particular application. This is particularly significant for dates from May onwards, given the hiatus to the fixing of such dates likely to be caused temporarily or otherwise by council elections to be held in May. We have sought to establish the position Board by Board and – in case of interest – the current position for the remainder of the year.
With effect from the 6 April the Gambling Commission will only accept application for new licences through their online portal. Operators should be alert to this.
Each year the Commission publishes, as part of its role as regulator, a report regarding the public participation in Gambling over the previous period.
On 6 April new regulations will come into force which will alter the regime for Operating licence fees in the gambling industry. The Gambling Commission has stated that the new fees should see an overall decrease of fees paid by operators.
The Treasury has recently released their response to their public consultation relating to the European 4th Money Laundering Directive. Under the existing Money Laundering Regulations, only holders of a casino operating licence are subject to the requirements. The directive effectively brings the entire UK gambling industry into scope. However, the directive provides the option of exempting “in full or in part, providers of certain gambling services” (non-remote and remote providers, except casinos) from its requirements, which exemption it would appear that the Government is likely to adopt.
Although there are some time imperatives within which the Government is expected to respond to the Lords recommendations, it is equally the case that Brexit continues to dominate the news and will undoubtedly be a colossal distraction and will take the vast majority of Government time over the coming months. However, as will be seen above nothing stands still and 2017 will no doubt continue to be an interesting time for operators…