Lights Out in London

Lights Out in London

Published: 29 July 2015

Licensing Law Latest

Balancing the needs of residents with a vibrant night time economy is one of the headaches frequently facing Local Authorities up and down the country.  Hackney Council has gone so far as to propose a new bylaw that could see venues close at 11pm and prevent any new licences being granted in certain stress areas, such as Shoreditch.

Hackney Council believe that they are reaching saturation point with areas like Dalston and Shoreditch losing the balance between the rights of local people and the rights of businesses. The Licensing chair of Hackney Council says “Alcohol related ambulance calls are also on the increase during the evening in these areas, as is the cost of the tax-payer of having to clear up the ever-growing piles of litter every weekend.”

Meanwhile Camden Council has had an informal consultation on the Late Night Levy because it has its own issues (with 1,600 alcohol licensed premises, of which 289 are licensed to sell alcohol beyond midnight). The late night levy is an annual fee that can be imposed on premises that trade late at night (the hours set can be anything from midnight to 6am) but only affects premises selling alcohol. The fees depend on rateable values and can range from £299 to £4,400 per annum. If imposed the fees generated are said to produce additional funding for the council and the police in Camden to use to address the impacts and strains on local services late at night. The informal consultation ended on 14th February this year and the Licensing Team will present its report in September when the full Council decision will be made.  If imposed Camden will join the likes of Westminster, City of London and Islington. The London Borough of Islington was the first to adopt the late night levy in London. 

Deregulation

“Deregulation” is the process of removing or reducing regulations, designed to simplify processes and cut red tape. The Deregulation Act 2015 has turned its attention on Licensing to reduce burdens on the industry.  This follows on from the lighter touch approach to live music in 2012.  Since April 2015, live music in licensed premises open for the sale of alcohol does not require a licence for audiences up to 500 (this has been increased from the previous 200, and applies between the hours of 08.00 to 23.00).

All change for Personal Licences

After consternation and confusion caused last year to licensed premises, by the talk of doing away with Personal Licences altogether, the process of deregulation has found a compromise.  Prieviously, Personal Licences were valid for ten years, requiring renewal once expired. Under the Licensing Act 2003, it was necessary to renew Personal Licences 2-3 months prior to their expiration date. However, from 1st April 2015, the requirement to renew Personal Licences was abolished, meaning that all Personal Licences that did not expire before 1st April 2015, are valid for an indefinite period of time. The importance of Personal Licences to any bar, pub, club or restaurant selling alcohol is that they must have a designated premises supervisor (DPS) enabling them to authorise others to sell or alcohol. A DPS must hold a Personal Licence.  

Expired Personal Licences 

The first Personal Licences were issued in 2005 and will show a 2015 expiry date. If this applies to you, fear not: there will be no need for you to renew it again in the future, since the abolition of the requirement to renew it will still be applicable to you going forward. How the licensing authorities will deal with this in practice is yet to be seen.  One possibility might be to issue an updated Personal Licence that does not display an expiry date.

Some council websites do not seem to have caught up yet, still advising (incorrectly) that Personal Licences must be renewed every ten years. This can be safely ignored.

Temporary Event Notices

Another provision of the Deregulation Act is an increase in the number of Temporary Event Notices (TENs) for a single premises. A TEN is a notification to the local authority, that an individual plans to carry out a ‘licensable activity’ (sale of alcohol, late night refreshment, (hot drinks or hot food after 11pm) or regulated entertainment) on unlicensed premises in England or Wales. Currently, a single premises is permitted only 12 events per year. However, from 1st January 2016, the maximum number of events per year will be 15. The event cannot last longer than 168 hours, and is able to be held both outdoors and indoors.  If you are in possession of a Personal Licence, you are able to have up to 50 TENs a year. Not such good news for those who are not in possession of a Personal Licence, unfortunately, since they are only able to be granted 5 TENs per year. 

For advice and information on the above or any specific licensing matter please contact Maria Guida, partner and head of Licensing.

The contents of this article are intended for general information purposes only and shall not be deemed to be, or constitute legal advice. We cannot accept responsibility for any loss as a result of acts or omissions taken in respect of this article.