N March introduced the report. He said the Licensing Enforcement Policy had worked effectively over the past five years but was due for review. He highlighted there were a few minor changes;
o 2.9 - Encourage rather than facilitate training as this was unrealistic for the Licensing team to deliver due to the increasing workload and being short of experienced staff.
o 4.20/4.24 – The mention of pre-application advice as new service since last reviewed.
o 4.36 – The addition of the Group Manager as new role.
o Page 18 – (exclude offences) has been widened to include possibility of committee and prosecution rather than picking from options.
The highest profile aspect of the policy has been the use of the ‘three strikes’ for taxi infringements.
He welcomed questions from the committee.
Councillor Bhinder referred to page 15 regarding enforcement options. He queried how the Enforcement Officers managed the difference between a licensee contravening an agreement with DBC and the law.
N March advised that Licensing were responsible for some aspects of the law, such as the legislation in relation to the Licensing Act and taxi drivers etc. A lot of licences will have conditions which are set locally rather than through legislation, but it didn’t make a significant difference in terms of how we approach those. The team would look at the severity of each case and the best way to resolve the issue.
Councillor Bhinder drew the committee’s attention to the list under 4.1 as he felt it was very useful and interesting. He then asked why there was such a long gap (21 days) between the decision notice being issued and the revoking of a licence.
N March explained it was a legal requirement for the individual to have an opportunity to appeal the decision to the Magistrates Court. He advised that if an appeal is lodged in those 21 days, it would need to be heard before any further action could be taken, which could take some time depending on court availability. He highlighted that they could suspend or revoke a licence with immediate effect if there was a public safety concern.
Councillor Rogers asked how much notice would have to be given to revoke a licence if there was an urgent matter. He also asked how long conditions could be placed on a licence or if it could only be used for the short-term.
N March advised it depended on the licence as food safety concerns would be dealt with by Environmental Health so he couldn’t advise on that. If it was a licensed premises that was connected with serious crime and disorder the Police had the power to immediately take action to close a premises down and this matter would be heard at a committee. If there was a serious concern with a taxi driver and the Police provide enough evidence we could revoke a licence with agreement between either the Team Leader (Licensing), Group Manager (Legal and Corporate Services), Assistant Director (Corporate and Contracted Services), and the Chair/Vice-Chair of this committee. With any of these situations we must have enough evidence to justify the action.
Councillor Johnson noted that the draft policy at Appendix A stated 2021-2025 but should be 2021-2026.
N March confirmed he would amend the dates.
That a 4 week consultation be carried out on the draft Licensing Enforcement Policy, with responses to be reported to a future meeting of the Committee.