Agenda item

Update relating to Licensing Act Policy Review following public consultation

Report of the Group Director of Services


The Group Director of Services submitted a report (previously circulated) to provide Members with an update on the current position of the Licensing Act Policy Review following a period of consultation approved by this Committee at their meeting held on 23 February 2021.


The submitted report outlined that Section 5 of the Licensing Act 2003 requires that each Local Authority has a Statement of Licensing Policy, reviewed every five years and Darlington Borough Council’s policy was to be renewed in April 2021.


It was reported that work had commenced on this review early in 2020, however the ongoing Covid-19 regulations had an enourmous impact on the hospitality trade, particularly those with premises licences, and many were compelled to close. The Business and Planning Act announced in July 2020 was introduced to assist the hospitality trade with ongoing restrictions until September 2021, however in the autumn further, even more stringent regulations were introduced until the trade was placed in full lockdown once again before Christmas.


It was also reported that the government are expected to introduce secondary legislation to extend the current Business and Planning Act from September 2021 until September 2022 providing further support to the hospitality industry; and the North East Strategic Licensing Group had expressed its concerns during 2020 that due to the closure of many licensed premises it was impossible to adequately consult with the hospitality industry that has been seriously affected by the pandemic and clarity was sought by the Local Government Association on whether scheduled Licensing Act Policy Reviews could be delayed.


On the 1 October 2020 a letter was sent to all Licensing Authorities by Kit Malthouse MP, Minister of State for Crime and Policing, offering further guidance to Local Authorities following legal consultation over the issue of policy and the Minister highlighted that it was unlikely the licensing legislation will be changed, and there remained a legal obligation to  review our Statement of Licensing Policy, however he did invite licensing authorities to explore a pragmatic approach to reflect these exceptional circumstances.


With prior approval of the Licensing Committee and in line with Section 182 Guidance to the Act, Licensing consulted with Responsible Authorities and the public between 1 March and 6 April 2021 and no representations had been received and all responses had been in support of a pragmatic approach.


RESOLVED – That the current Statement of Licensing Policy be carried forward to allow sufficient time to fully consult with the hospitality trade and stakeholders once Covid-19 regulations have been sufficiently relaxed.


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