Venue: Exe Room, Phoenix House, Tiverton
Contact: Julia Stuckey Member Services Officer
Link: audio recording
APOLOGIES AND SUBSTITUTE MEMBERS
To receive any apologies for absence and notices of appointment of Substitute Members (if any).
Apologies were received from Cllrs T G Hughes and J L Smith.
PUBLIC QUESTION TIME
To receive any questions relating to items on the agenda from members of the public and replies thereto.
There were no members of the public in attendance.
To approve the minutes of the last meeting of the Committee.
The Minutes of the last meeting were approved as a true record and signed by the Chairman.
To receive a report from the Public Health Manager regarding pre-application advice and charging for licensing applications.
The Committee had before it a report * from the Public Health and Professional Services Manager which set out proposals for the introduction of a discretionary chargeable service for the provision of pre-application advice for licensing applications.
The officer outlined the contents of the report, explaining that the Localism Act 2011 allowed authorities to make a charge where it was not under a duty to provide the service and the person had agreed to the service being provided. There was also a duty to ensure that taking one financial year with another, the income from charges did not exceed the costs of providing of the service, in other words the Council cannot make a profit from charging for the service.
The licensing team dealt with a wide range of licensable activities under a range of different legislation. In particular, the following applications were the most complex and time-consuming:
· Licensing Act 2003: Sale of alcohol, entertainment and the provision of late night refreshment (i.e. new premises, variations, transfers and changes of Designated Premises Supervisors)
· Gambling Act 2005: Gambling (i.e. new premises, variations, transfers)
Although there was a statutory duty on the Council to administer applications, that duty did not extend to the provision of pre-submission advice and assistance.
The officer explained that the proposal to introduce discretionary services held benefits for the Council. Officers believed that the assistance offered under the proposed discretionary scheme would benefit residents and persons present in the Mid Devon area. From discussions with applicants, officers knew that some were put off, for example, by the length of application forms and the amount of sometimes technical information required in submitting a completed application. Guidance notes and policies were publicly available to applicants on the website, but the prescribed application process was inherently complicated mainly because it was closely linked to the primary legislation and applicants did not always have time to consider the guidance that was available.
The proposal was that potential applicants or persons indicating an interest in applying for a licence would be given the opportunity to take advantage of officer assistance at the appropriate discretionary fee.
The level of pre-application advice and assistance required was determined by the type of application to be completed and experience of the applicant. In order to try and be as inclusive as possible, it was proposed to offer three levels of service for the majority of applications, ranging from low to high (1 hour to 3 hours) of officer time. Costs were then calculated based on the hourly rate (including on-costs) of the licensing officer post for 2017/18.
Proposed fees were set as follows:
Level of assistance required
Low 1 hour £30.00
Medium 2 hours £60.00
High 3 hours £90.00
The type of pre-application advice and assistance given would depend on the requirements of the applicant but examples of what the service may consist of included:
• Advice and assistance with completing the application forms;
• Advice on appropriate conditions taken from the pool of standard conditions or ... view the full minutes text for item 11.
To receive a verbal update regarding enforcement.
The Lead Licensing Officer informed the Committee that the team had been making proactive premises inspections, which involved visiting unannounced. Since November six premises had been found to have a risk rate of medium and two premises had a risk rate of high. Where a high risk was reported a second visit would take place to ensure that areas of concern had been put right.
The team had handled seven new applications since November; the average was around twenty for the year.
Since November the team had issued two simple cautions for non-compliance. One involved a premises that had been selling alcohol whilst their licence was suspended for non-payment of an annual fee and the other was for selling alcohol without a licence or a TENs notice. They had subsequently applied for a licence.
A hearing had been held regarding Eggbeer Farm and the licence had been granted.
The officer informed the Committee that the team were continuing to work in partnership with Trading Standards and the Police and had undertaken evening work visiting the pubs in the three main town centres.
IMMIGRATION ACT UPDATE
To receive a verbal update regarding the Immigration Act.
The Lead Licensing Officer informed the Committee that he expected the checking of immigration status for new applicants to commence in early April. Officers would be undertaking Home Office training and he would provide further information as and when it became available.