Licensing policy

Partnership Working

7.1 There is a continued emphasis on working between the Police, the Environmental Health Authority, Home Office Immigration Enforcement and the Licensing Authority.

7.2 Additionally, in carrying out its functions, the Act requires the Council to determine and have regard to a Licensing policy and any guidance from the Secretary of State. The purpose of this document is to detail how the Council will comply with these duties. This document is the Licensing policy of the Welwyn Hatfield Borough Council and it is to be read in conjunction with the Act and associated regulations and guidance from the Secretary of State. Furthermore, all Licensing activities undertaken by the Council will be carried out so far as is possible to meet the requirements of the Human Rights Act 1998, that ensures the rights and freedoms of individuals; and to fulfil the Council’s obligations under section 17 of the Crime & Disorder Act 1998, to do all that is reasonably possible to prevent crime and disorder within the Borough. This Licensing Policy is concerned with the regulations of licensable activities and is focussed on the direct impact(s) of those activities.

7.3 The Equality Act 2010 places a legal obligation on public authorities to have due regard to the need to eliminate unlawful discrimination, harassment and victimisation; to advance equality of opportunity; and to foster good relations, between persons with different protected characteristics, and to promote equality of opportunity and good relations between persons of different racial groups. The protected characteristics are age, disability, gender reassignment, pregnancy and maternity, marriage and civil partnership, race, religion or belief, sex and sexual orientation.

  • We will therefore consider this responsibility when imposing conditions on licences so as to ensure that they could not directly or indirectly lead to discrimination.
  • Further guidance as to this matter is available from the Equality and Human Rights Commission.

7.4 The Act does not always allow applicants to fully explain their proposals, leading the public and responsible authorities to misunderstand what is being proposed. This can lead to representations being made and it is only at the licensing hearing that it becomes clear what is being proposed. We would strongly encourage applicants to hold pre-application discussions with us, responsible authorities and local residents or businesses before submitting applications.

7.5 We will work in partnership with the nominated responsible authorities, the Police and Crime Commissioner, Directors of Public Health, and our partners within the Community Safety Partnership to promote the objectives of the Licensing Act and other local and national strategies and initiatives, such as:

  • Pub Watch and Off watch Schemes
  • Alcohol Harm Reduction Strategy
  • Proxy watch

7.6 The licensing authority will consider each application on its own merits.

7.7 Pub Watch has been developed to enhance the security of customers and staff for all types of premises so that they can safely enjoy the facilities offered by the Trade. We take an active part in the scheme and will work with all licence holders to continue to promote a safe and vibrant borough

7.8 We will support the use of the PASS schemes in conjunction with Trading Standards.

7.9 We must have regard to the Crime & Disorder Act 1998 and the likely effect of the exercise of our functions. We will do all that we can to prevent crime and disorder in our area. We will have particular regard to the likely impact of licensing on related crime and disorder in the borough particularly when considering the location, impact, operation and management of all proposed licence/certificate applications, renewals and variations of conditions.

7.10 The Government produced the Safer Clubbing Guide in order to improve safety for all club goers and in particular to reduce the risk of harm associated with drug use and clubbing. The licensing regime is expected to use a range of conditions to control the environment at night club premises or late night venues. We will work proactively with partners such as the police, club owners and local drug awareness agencies to minimise the risk of drug use on premises.

7.11 The Anti-Social Behaviour Act 2003 ( soon to be amended by The Antisocial Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014) is designed to provide local authorities and the police with a wider, more flexible range of powers to meeting existing responsibilities and respond to the needs of their communities. The Act provides powers and sanctions to deal with serious anti-social behaviour including the immediate closure of licensed premises causing a public noise nuisance.

7.12 Care will be taken to ensure that where there is an overlap between the licensing regime and other statutory regulatory systems, duplication will be avoided and control exercised through the most appropriate system.

7.13 Planning permission is usually required for the establishment of new premises and the change of use of premises. Planning permissions that are relevant to licensed premises include:

7.14 All premises that have a premises licence or club certificate must also have authorised planning permission, must comply with all conditions of that planning permission, or be deemed permitted development pursuant to the General Permitted Development Order (1995).

7.15 The Licensing and Planning regimes are separate and distinct regulatory functions. Any restrictions on the planning permission are not relevant to the determination under the Licensing Act. However, we would recommend that applicants discuss any restrictions on their permission with the Local Planning Authority.

7.16 The Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 (and other relevant statutory provisions) impose duties on employers, employees and persons in control of premises to prevent where possible or minimise the risk of injury or ill health to people affected by work activities or the condition of the premises. Local authorities are the enforcing authority for the majority of premises on which licensable activities are carried out, with the Health and Safety Executive being responsible for some other premises.

7.17 There are general duties, for example risk assessment under the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1992, but these may not adequately cover specific issues which arise from licensable activities such as the provision of regulated entertainment. Licensing objectives overlap with health and safety requirements in so far as the licensing objective for public safety requires businesses to consider risks on their premises.

7.18 The Environmental Protection Act 1990 places a duty on local authorities to investigate complaints of nuisance which include noise, and take enforcement action where a statutory nuisance exists. The Licensing Act provides the power for the police to temporarily close licensed premises to prevent nuisance to the public as a result of disorder from the premises. The Anti-Social Behaviour Act gives Environmental Health Officers and the police powers to close noisy premises for up to 24 hours. Joint working procedures or protocols between Environmental Health Officers, police and licensing staff will ensure that these control measures are properly used to protect the local environment.

7.19 Community Protection Notices may be appropriate to deal with certain detrimental effects arising from licensed premises such as litter.

7.20 Where a premises conforms to current fire safety standards the Licensing Authority need not attach conditions to any licence or certificate. We work with fire authorities to ensure that the public is properly protected. We only add conditions to the premises licence or certificate where it is necessary to promote the licensing objectives.

7.21 The Equalities Act 2010 introduced measures to tackle discrimination encountered by disabled people in the areas of employment, access to goods, facilities and services and the management, buying or renting of land or property.

7.22 The Human Rights Act 1998 incorporates the European Convention on Human Rights and makes it unlawful for a local authority to act in a way that is incompatible with a Convention right. The Council will have particular regard to the following relevant provisions of the European Convention on Human Rights:

  • Article 6 - that in the determination of civil rights and obligations everyone is entitled to a fair and public hearing within a reasonable time by an independent and impartial tribunal established by law
  • Article 8 - that everyone has the right to respect for private and family life, home and correspondence.
  • Article 1 - of the First Protocol that every person is entitled to the peaceful enjoyment of his or her possessions, including for example the possession of a licence

7.23 When considering applications, the Council may need to consider a number of wider issues with contributory impact. To ensure these issues receive the necessary consideration, the Council’s Licensing Committee will receive, as necessary, reports from the appropriate Officer on:

  • The needs of the local tourist economy;
  • The cultural strategy for the area;
  • Levels of employment in the area/need for new investment and employment;
  • Any planning considerations that might affect licensed premises.

7.24 For the purpose of ensuring an informed approach to the execution of its duties under the Act, the Council will set up liaison arrangements between itself, the Hertfordshire Police, the Hertfordshire Fire and Rescue Service, the Hertfordshire County Council Social Services and the Hertfordshire Safeguarding Children Board. Internal liaison arrangements will be established between the Environmental Health Service, the Community Safety Section, the Planning Section and Legal Services.

7.25 The Council will work with the local Police and transport providers to ensure that local transport needs are identified to disperse people from town centres swiftly and safely and to avoid concentrations that produce disorder and disturbance. Whilst there is currently no public transport provision after midnight in the Borough, the Council licenses hackney carriages, private hire vehicles and their drivers.

7.26 The Council will co-operate with the Security Industry Authority as far as possible and will consider adding conditions to licences concerning the provision of security personnel where necessary and appropriate.