Monday 30 August 2004 2.03pm
On another thread, Sarah reminded us that a new regime is coming in (under last year's Licensing Act). Local authorties will become responsible not only for entertainment (music and dancing) licensing and "night cafe" licensing, but also for alcohol licensing - previously dealt with separately by the local magistrates.
As Sarah said, this is likely to be a big issue for SE1, given the growth of the number of licensed premises, and the steady conversion of former commercial buildings into residential use. In the past SE1 was seen as the ideal location for all night licenses because, unlike areas under stress from the night time economy such as Soho, there were "no neighbours".
In a classic example of the lack of "joined-up" Government, the department responsible for licensing policy, DCMS, was pursuing what most commentators see as a "deregulatory" approach - pushing for the twenty-four economy. Meanwhile the Home Office has just started to wake up to the association between late night drunkenness and much disorder/anti-social behaviour.
AFAIK, implementation of the Act has been delayed while the two arms of central Government tried to sort out model guidance for licensing authorities that strikes a balance. This was only issued to local authorities in July.
All local authorities are required to consult on their draft licensing policy
The meeting of the Licensing Committee on 7 September is likely to approve the start of Lambeth's formal Consultation on Statement of Licensing Policy
- the probable date for close of the consultation appears to be 1 October.
Links to documents on Lambeth website
Statement of Licensing Policy
Licensing Act 2003 - Timetable
The draft policy includes the possibility that Lambeth could declare some areas to be subject to a "special saturation policy" and reject more licensed premises in such an area. I suspect the entertainment industry will try and object to this.
The draft policy may
be discussed further by the North Lambeth Area Committee
on October 6th (agenda and venue tbc) - it appears that the item is currently "for information only" at that meeting. The original intention when Lambeth Council
set up its new area committees was that they would take licensing decisions. However, this seems to be off the agenda until the impact of the changes are clearer.
The covering report to the licensing committee states: "It is anticipated that the majority of licensed premises will take advantage of the opportunity to apply for an extension of opening hours when they apply for licences under the new Act.
As the sun has now come out again, I'll do the delving into the position in Southwark
another time - unless James H cares to spend his Bank Holiday wrestling with the Southwark website.