Greater licensing power for our Councils


Today’s blog also appears in The Argus newspaper and relates to the night time economy which is a big issue here in Sussex: Over the last few weeks, putting the nonsense of Easter Egg hunts aside, Government attention appears to all intents and purpose to have been focused exclusively on our relationship with the EU. However behind the scenes there has been some normal business going on too and at the end of last week, The Policing and Crime Act 2017 became law. It introduces some elements to our night time economy which will impact on the police and local councils as they regulate businesses that sell alcohol. Clearly this is a big issue in Brighton and Hove as well as in places such as Worthing, Hastings, Eastbourne, Crawley and Chichester. All of these towns have a vibrant night time economy and the work of the Police and Councils along with the publicans and nightclub managers and agencies such as Street Pastors and Safe Spaces can make a huge difference to how the locality looks and feels to local residents. It is vital to strike a balance to ensure that our streets do not become a no go area to people wanting to take a stroll through the town centre. The new law contains a number of elements, the first relates to a product that I confess I had never heard of until I read about this law. The Police and Licensing Authorities are now responsible for regulating the sale of alcohol in all forms including powder and vaporised alcohol. Apparently powdered ethanol is manufactured in such a way that it cannot be inhaled with any benefit to the user but it is used in the production of food or in settings where the weight of the liquid alcohol can be a challenge such as camping and transporting alcohol to remote places. So if anyone ever makes it to Mars, an alcoholic drink is still an option for them to toast their arrival! Clearly this additional responsibility may add to the work load of already very busy licensing officers and it is vital that sufficient funding is available to assist them! A much more pertinent issue covered in the Act relates to the closure of venues which inevitably is a hot topic for many readers of this newspaper. The new provision means that the power to suspend or revoke a personal licence will be extended to the Licensing Authority ie Council. This will mean that there will probably be more frequent licence suspensions than at present. However there is a safeguard, the licensee can appeal to the Magistrates in cases where the Council alone has carried out the suspension. Nevertheless this is bound to change the relationship between Councils and licensed establishments and it is vital that this improves the way in which the night time economy is managed. An additional aspect is that in cases where a serious crime or serious disorder has taken place on licensed premises and the Council has suspended the licence pending a full review of the licence through the Courts. Under the previous law, licensees could make repeated appeals to the Council to have the suspension lifted while they waited for the Court case, the new provision gives them only one possible appeal before they have to wait for the rest of the process to run its course. Again this means that the nature of the relationship will change and clearly what matters overall is that we end up with an environment that is well managed and is accessible to all people where best practice is in evidence throughout our towns and cities.

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About ianchisnall

I have a passion to see public policy made accessible everyone who want to improve the wellbeing of their communities. I am interested in issues related to crime and policing as well as in policies on health services and strategic planning.
This entry was posted in Brighton & Hove, Charities, Community Safety, Parliament and Democracy, Policing, Youth Issues and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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