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.

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