The House of Lords Select Committee on the Licensing Act 2003 has this month published a report of Post-Legislative Scrutiny in respect of the Licensing Act.
The Report’s findings
The Report concludes that the Government originally made a substantial error in placing the responsibility for licensing with Local Authorities and Licensing Committees. It explains that the evidence which was received by the Select Committee in respect of Licensing Sub-Committees was damning and the House of Lords is extremely concerned by the evidence which has been put before it.
The report suggests that Planning Committees were much more effective bodies and were more reliable and well-equipped to make licensing decisions. There is a suggestion that co-ordination between the licensing and planning systems should begin immediately at Local Authority level. They also suggest that fees for licensing applications and annual fees should be set locally, and not nationally by regulation.
The Late Night Levy
The Late Night Levy has been criticised and the report calls for it to be repealed unless the amendments which have already been made prove to be effective.
The Levy, which was brought in to fund late night policing, was criticised before peers, and “very convincing evidence” against the Levy was put before the Select Committee. It remains to be seen whether the Levy will survive any changes to the law arising from the Report.
Institute of Licensing
The Institute of Licensing has since come to the defence of the role of Licensing Sub-Committees. The Institute, while it accepted that there was no doubt that improvements were required, defended the majority of Councillors sitting on Licensing Sub-Committees, many of whom are members of the Institute.
These articles will keep a close eye on developments in respect of licensing and in particular any amendments and changes made to the Licensing Act 2003.