Changes to Licensing Act: Live Music Act

From 1st of October there is a rather large change to the Licensing Act 2003 in reference to live music. This has come about by changes to the Primary Legislation (Act) which includes the new Live Music Act. So what does it mean to the man on the street?

Here are the main changes and a LINK to the DCMS website

  • Remove the licensing requirement for un-amplified live music taking place between 8am and 11pm in all venues, subject to the right of a licensing authority to impose conditions about live music following a review of a premises licence or club premises certificate relating to premises authorised to supply alcohol for consumption on the premises
  • Remove the licensing requirement for amplified live music taking place between 8am and 11pm before audiences of no more than 200 persons on premises authorised to supply alcohol for consumption on the premises, subject to the right of a licensing authority to impose conditions about live music following a review of a premises licence or club premises certificate
  • Remove the licensing requirement for amplified live music taking place between 8am and 11pm before audiences of no more than 200 persons in workplaces not otherwise licensed under the 2003 Act (or licensed only for the provision of late night refreshment)
  • Remove the licensing requirement for the provision of entertainment facilities
  • Widen the licensing exemption for live music integral to a performance of Morris dancing or dancing of a similar type, so that the exemption applies to live or recorded music instead of un-amplified live music.

In the past to play any type of music apart from background (radio etc) you would have to have a licence to do this. This was granted by Cornwall Council. As long as your aims were in accordance with the Licensing Act and the Licensing Objectives: The prevention of crime and disorder; Public safety; Prevention of public nuisance; and The protection of children from harm and no objections from the statutory agencies and interested parties (public, town and parish council’s) a licence would be granted. If there was objections, a Licensing Hearing would take place.

It is going to be interesting to see if these changes increase noise complaints from the public etc. Less bureaucracy is welcomed, but not if actually causes more trouble. At least the Government did not go ahead with the utterly bonkers change of not needing a regulated entertainment licence for events under 5000!

Changes to the Licensing Act

The Licensing Act 2003 (LA03) is in parts a ridiculous piece of legislation that was meant to make the licensing laws simpler. However, this resulted in an almost free-for-all opening times for licensable activities. Now, after nine years a major review has happened with some good changes.

A sensible change is making Cornwall Council a Responsible Authority. Previously, Cornwall Council could not review, or call a review of licensed premises, but had to wait for a member of the public, Police or Environmental Health to ask for a review. This change is welcomed. Also, the Primary Care Trust (or its replacement) are now statutory consultees. This is going to be interesting to see if they will use these powers and how.

Another change is that of a ‘Interested Party.’ Apart from the previous statutory bodies like the public, Environmental Health and the Police, this has been changed to ‘Any Person.” Now an individual, body, or business can make representations on a licensing application. As for whom a body is, this now covers just about every type of organisation. The real change is a town or parish council now can make representations under its own name as long as it makes that representations inline with the Licensing Objectives. Under the previous 1964 Act, a town and parish council had some powers of representation, but these were removed in the LA 2003.

Previously you had to live within the vicinity of a licensed premised to make any representations. Now this has been removed allowing anyone to make representations even in they do not live in the immediate area, town, or even technically the county. On face value I think this is a sensible change apart from there should have been some area limit on whom can object. This could be a distance measurement, or town/village boundaries, as you now could end up with someone objecting to a licence premises in Bodmin, but who lives in Penzance.

Two other amendments to the LA03 will come into effect in October 2012. These are Early Morning Alcohol Restriction Order (EMRO) and the Late Night Levy. The EMRO allows the Police to apply for restrictions for alcohol from midnight, till 6pm. The Late Night Levy is an additional charge placed on a premise to cover the costs of policing and other associated costs. The timing is the same as the EMRO. As yet, there has been no pricing structure from the government. I hope any pricing is sensible, and not used to stop licensed premises opening later.

All in all there are some sensible changes to the LA03 which should make administering  licensing establishments easier. It will also give the public and other organisation a greater say on licensed establishment especially if they are causing an issue.

Want to Organise a Public Event?

If you are thinking of holding a small or medium scale events, such as a local carnival, fete or music festival or a charity fund-raiser that is open to the public and you are worried about the different permission you might need, then an up coming half-day course run by Cornwall Council might be the salvation you need.

This half day training is offered free by a team of professionals from Cornwall Council’s Environmental Health, Licensing, Cornwall Fire and Rescue Service, and from Devon & Cornwall Police. These professionals will be able to give you the right advice you need to hold your event. Which will no doubt save anyone thinking of holding an event from undue stress, or looking at an application form and wondering where to start.

It is great that Helston has been selected to hold one of these events. This will take place on Thursday 15 March 2012 at The Guild Hall, Helston. The start time for this event is 9 am-1 pm with (free) refreshments available from 8:30 am.

The other two locations for this event are: St Minver Holiday Park, St Minver, Wadebridge on Tuesday 13 March (9am-1pm) and Newquay Sports Centre, Newquay on Wednesday 14 March (9am-1pm).

The Live Music Bill Jumps Another Hurdle

A House of Lords Private Members’ Bill, the Live Music Bill, has passed another hurdle. The Bill had its report stage and third reading on 20th January in Parliament. Now, it will have a few tweaks during Consideration of Amendments stage before it is given Royal Assent, and thereafter law.

Since the introduction of the Licensing Act 2003, all premises who wish to play live/recorded music other than background (a CD or something similar) music are required to have an entertainment licence to do this. This has led to a lot more bureaucracy and frustration for premises who wish to play music. There is of course the other-side of that fence, where this Act has stopped people from being disturbed by music at all hours.

This bill is sort of halfway house, as the Bill seeks to amend the Licensing Act 2003 by partially deregulating the performance of live music and removing regulation about the provision of entertainment facilities. Its purpose is to:

  • remove the licensing requirement for un-amplified live music taking place between 8am and 11pm in all venues, subject to the right of a licensing authority to impose conditions about live music following a review of a premises licence or club premises certificate relating to premises authorised to supply alcohol for consumption on the premises ;
  • remove the licensing requirement for amplified live music taking place between 8am and 11pm before audiences of no more than 200 persons on premises authorised to supply alcohol for consumption on the premises, subject to the right of a licensing authority to impose conditions about live music following a review of a premises licence or club premises certificate;
  • remove the licensing requirement for amplified live music taking place between 8am and 11pm before audiences of no more than 200 persons in workplaces not otherwise licensed under the 2003 Act (or licensed only for the provision of late night refreshment);
  • remove the licensing requirement for the provision of entertainment facilities; and widen the licensing exemption for live music integral to a performance of morris dancing or dancing of a similar type, so that the exemption applies to live or recorded music instead of un-amplified live music

As you would expect, The British Beer and Pub Association has welcomed the news. However, will this change to the Licensing Act be welcome in all communities? I guess we will have to find out when this Bill becomes Law.

Revoking a Premises Licence

On of my other roles as a Cornwall Councillor is Licensing. I am currently the Vice-Chairman of the Licensing Act Committee. One of the Committees roles is to administer the Licensing Act 2003 by means of Hearings. These Hearings consist of three Councillors trained in Licensing. We can grant, refuse, suspend, or in some cases revoke a licence.
Today one of those Hearings took place for ILL Gatto Nero, Camborne. This Hearing (Review) was brought about by Cornwall Council’s Environmental Protection, Police and Interested Parties (residents). You can find the Agenda and all relevant information HERE.
All sides present their case, and once that has been completed the panel retires for deliberation. Today we revoked the licence because there was clear evidence from Environmental Protection, Police and Interested Parties that this premises was not run to the satisfaction of the Licensing Objectives in the Licensing Act 2003. 
No one likes to remove a licence, but we will, if it is shown that a licensee cannot, or will not, run an establishment correctly.

Street Trading and a Bag of Worms

The Licensing Act Committee of Cornwall Council has taken on the responsibility of Street Trading. It is a huge issue and it is currently a bag of worms because of the different policies, laws, rules and in many cases a free-for-all.

It is envisaged that this work will take a couple of years to complete, and I can honestly say it entails a lot of work. It will also be very controversial due to the nature of this subject.

Most of the controls on street trading are covered under the Local Government (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1982. It allows the Council to designate any street as either:

1. Prohibited Street – a street in which street trading is prohibited
2. Consent Street – a street in which street trading is prohibited without concentrate of the Council.
3. Licence Street – a street in which street trading is prohibited without a licence granted by the Council.

It will also cover the controversial areas of trading in lay-bys. This will include selling of motor cars, food and other services.

Aside from street trading, there is also the issue of Pedlars. This issue is covered under the Pedlars Act of 1871 and are issued by the Police. A basic definition of a Pedlars is:

A Pedlar is required to go to his customers. He is permitted to stop and then trade, but he is not permitted to set-up a stall in a pre-selected location.

For many areas the issue of Pedlars is a concern due to the antiquated law. Unless the Act is a repealed, or amended little will change.

My worry about this work is the issues of resources and will any extras be made available to cover this huge workload. There is also an election in 2013 and all this work could be for nothing as the new Authority could kick this work into touch.

I guess time will tell……

Enforcement – Yes, the Council does act

I have heard the saying many times, Cornwall Council does nothing when it comes to enforcement either in Planning, Licensing or any other statutory duty that the Council carries out. I think in a lot of cases this comes down to perception and how we as the Council get this information out to the general public.

A meeting today with the Chairs, Vice-Chairs of both Licensing Committees and senior officers we discussed various points in relation to Licensing. One of the items discussed was enforcement and prosecutions that had been undertaken by Cornwall Council. This did not just include Licensing, but was interesting to hear what litigation had been undertaken, and more importantly, the success the Council had.

I will start with the Fixed Penalty Notices (FPN). Between 1st April and 30th September 2010 there were 103 FPN issued that resulted in £4,635 of fines being collected. This is broken down further into various areas. It may seem not many, and it should be improved, but you have to catch the perpetrator first.

• Littering tickets issued – 20 – Fines collected £1,235
• Dog Fouling tickets issued – 55 – Fines collected £2,500
• Tickets for breach of dog control orders includes dogs on leads – 28 – Fines £900

Some of the other areas covered are breaches of Health and Safety at Work Act, Environmental Protection, Trading Standards and Animal Health. These have resulted in substantial fines, and in some cases, custodial sentences. For the Licensing part there have been 15 Licence Revocation/Suspensions during this period. Again, this is a positive step in dealing with licensed premises that are not abiding to their conditions, or the Licensing Act.

Full Council – Two Meetings in One

Today was the monthly meeting of the whole of Cornwall Council, it’s always a lively affair with many Councillors wishing to make various points on items on the Agenda, or reports made to this Council. Today was slightly unusual as there were two meetings; the first one was the continuation of last months meeting and this months.

A somewhat controversial item was the policy on Sex Establishments. The Miscellaneous Licensing Committee had discuss at length the formulation of this policy and in doing so, has to make their recommendations for final approval of the policy to the full Council. Click HERE for the full details of this policy, as it’s a rather large document. After much debate, this policy was voted on and passed. It is my view that this policy will better regulate these types of establishments, rather the current policy that is in my opinion, open to lots of interpretation.

The motion to if at all possible stop the ‘downsizing’ of Falmouth Coastguard Centre was debated. Many of the Councillors who spoke had direct knowledge of the excellent job that this Coastguard Station does locally, nationally and internationally. It is a leading expert in various maritime skills and it’s downsizing will in my opinion have a impact on safety for those at sea, and the coastline of Cornwall. After a good debate the motion was passed unamimosly that a letter is sent to the Government and all six sitting Cornish MP’s asking for a rethink of the proposals that are currently being discussed. Let’s hope that this course of action does indeed work, but sadly, I bet we get only a ‘thank you for your letter’ reply.

As alway, I really enjoy this meeting as in most cases (depends on your viewpoint) there is always a good level of debate from all corners of the chamber.

Drinking and Crime – A link?

I sit on the Licensing Act Committee and I am currently the Vice-Chairman. Its role is to make sure the Licensing Act 2003 is implemented and those premises and people who are covered by it adhere to it. Click here for the Act.
One of the roles is monitoring the effect of the late night economy and the impact on crime and disorder. We can, if needed, tackle problems that arise from premises that don’t adhere to the Act. We have some far reaching powers that can remove some, or all of premises licensable activities via means of a hearing. 
One of the powers we have is to introduce a Cumulative Impact Zone (CIZ). Currently 3 Towns have one of these. They are Newquay, Truro and Penzance. The Committee must review these CIZ every 3 years to make sure they are still working, or if they are still required. It’s not 3 years yet, but we have decided to review early to take into account some major changes that are coming to the Licensing Act (LA03) soon. We will also be looking into other areas to see if they require a CIZ. 
The Committee met on Friday and was presented with a report on these 3 areas and the issue of crime and disorder connected to licensable activities, namely drinking. There were some very stark figures that did in fact point to a problem.  In the report it showed that there was an increase in violent crime connected to alcohol in these 3 areas. With Penzance 14%, Newquay 10.6% and Truro15.5% increase.
Further detailed figures (2009/10) point out that a large percentage of violent crime did occur between Friday to Sunday between the hours of 8pm and 4am. You can see a direct link with the following data between closing, late night drinking and crime and disorder.
Penzance 49% of violent crimes occurred during this time, with a peak of 11pm on Friday and 3am on Sunday.
Newquay it was 51.6% with a peak from Saturday 10pm till 4am Sunday
Truro it was 45.9% with a peak until 2am on Saturday.
The report also covered the age and gender of who was a victim of violent crime
Penzance:  279 victims, 41.6% female, 59.1% male, 20.4% of these crimes were males aged between 15 and 24
Newquay: 234 victims, 33.8% female, 66.2% male, 32.1% of these crimes were males aged between 15 and 24
Truro: 160 victims, 41.3% female, 58.8% male, 25% of these crimes were males aged between 15 and 24
The report is very detailed and is a good source of data to try and tackle known hotspots. No one wants to stop people having a good time, but this problem does have a major impact on people living in those areas and resources by the Police and other agencies. In other words it uses up more of your Taxes to tackle this problem.
The Committee will undertake a full review of Cornwall and look at the best ways to tackle this issue. At the end of the day we can only do what the LA03 allows us. From my experience this Act has a lot of holes in it which hopefully will be address with the review (we hope).

I have also have to say the vast majority of Landlords and Owners of Pubs/Clubs do try and work with the Authorities as they don’t want the hassle of dealing with the nastier element of drinking. I believe we all have to work together to achieve this.

Licensing Act – Consultation.

The Licensing Act 2003. A piece of legislation that was meant to simplify and bring licensing up to date. This piece of legislation can trace its history back to the 1751 Gin Act.

Today, over at County Hall the Licensing Act Committee met to discuss the latest Government consultation on this Act. There are many problems with the current Act. The de-regulation of licensing hours is just one. When it was first introduced it was sold as allowing the UK to adopt a more European cafe culture to drinking. This has failed. History will tell you that Britain has a long history with drinking. In reality the de-regulation of hours means premises have just stayed open later.

That is not entirely bad in principle, but one of the main problems to this is what happens when people leave these premises in the early hours of the morning and the disturbance it causes to local residents. When it was 12-1 in the morning people could still get a fair amount of sleep, but its a little hard when you are kept awake until 4 am. Add the smoking ban, and you have a real problem to noise and disturbance. From my experience most landlords try to mitigate against this, but it still causes problems. There is also huge budget implications to the Emergency Services in dealing with alcohol related problems.

What we discussed today was how we could improve the Act from the view of the Council. At present we have no real teeth prior to it going to a formal hearing. In fact the Licensing Authority does not even have the power to call for a review on a troublesome premises. It has to rely on the Police, Public, Environmental Health and Trading Standards. It would be easier if we had those powers. We also believed that City, Town and Parish Councils are made interested parties to any applications. Currently they are not.

We also discussed many other issues like a different fees depending on how late you stay open. Currently its the same price if you shut at 11pm or 5am. Also discussed were fixed fines for infringements, the tightening up of who can object to a Temporary Event Notice (T.E.N.) and other issues that would  make the Act more workable. This Consultation ends on the 8th of Sept, when the Government will collate and hopefully adopt these points (or at least some).

For more details on the Licensing Act click HERE. For TENs click HERE

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