Licensing Authority acting as a Responsible Authority
Frank Russell Senior Environment Protection and Licensing Officer to present report LD.422.
Frank Russell, Senior Licensing Officer, presented report LD.422, which included the Preliminary guidance April 2012. He informed members that the Police Reform and Social Responsibility Act 2011 made licensing authorities “Responsible Authorities” which included the Police, Fire Service, and Environmental Health. This was to ensure that licensing authorities were better able to respond quickly to the concerns of local residents and businesses. This would now allow the Licensing Authority to intervene with an application or apply for a review of an existing premises licence or club certificate.
He stated that The Home Office guidance was clear what the expectation would be of the Licensing Authority and would only undertake the role in very limited circumstances. However, it may be appropriate for the Licensing Authority to act to represent an elderly/vulnerable group who feel too intimidated to apply themselves for a review and there is insufficient evidence for environmental health or the police to act. Another case might be with an application that varies widely from the Council’s Licensing Policy. The guidance makes it clear that the Licensing Committee or sub-committee must make licensing determinations. The officer advising the Licensing Authority must be a different individual to the officer acting for the responsible authority.
He emphasised that the expectation was that the Licensing Authority would generally not intervene on behalf of individuals or where the matter was within the remit of other responsible authorities. It is recommended that the authority is delegated to the Group Manager for Environmental Services to decide when the Licensing Authority should intervene in its role as a responsible authority. The Group Manager would then decide if and how to deal with the application and pass it on to the relevant department.
The Chairman of the Committee Len Lawton suggested that members could act as a proxy for the community and referred to page four of the guidance where it suggested “that in smaller licensing authorities they may wish to involve officials from outside the licensing department to ensure a separation of responsibilities. However, these officials should still be officials employed by the authority”, and believe there was a role for every member to have.
Councillor Allaway-Martin indicated that perhaps the Champion Role could be extended to include any older persons issues, which related to licensing.
Councillor Winship, asked what the difference was with this policy opposed to the current policy, also if she had a problem in her ward with a licence premises whom would she report it to, the Licensing Authority or to the Police.
Frank Russell, Senior Licensing Officer, informed members that the Responsible Authority role is a bigger role, and that we could push complaints to the police or Environmental Health for them to use their powers to deal with certain issues especially if we were satisfied that it was within their powers.
A vote was taken and all members: -
RESOLVED to delegate authority to the Group Manager for Environmental Services to decide when the Licensing Authority should intervene in its role as a Responsible Authority.