The updated guidance offers advice and clarification for councils on a range of issues to help them to deliver the legislation effectively.
The original guidance was published in July 2004 and parts of it were updated in June 2006. The revised draft published today is the second and final stage in the process of updating it. Changes include:
• greater emphasis that there should be no presumption in favour of longer opening hours and that the four main objectives of the act should be paramount in considering any licensing application;
• an expanded section on incidental music, to help local authorities determine whether music falls into this category and is therefore not licensable;
• a recommendation that personal licence holders – those responsible for alcohol sales on a licensed premises - should provide written, rather than verbal, authorisations for the sale of alcohol in their absence; and
• a clarification of the role of councillors in the licensing process, for example to explain when those with a ‘prejudicial’ interest in an application should withdraw from the decision making process.
Licensing Minister Shaun Woodward said:
“The Licensing Act gives tough powers to deal with the irresponsible minority and more freedom to the responsible majority. While it’s still early days, there are encouraging signs that this is what’s being delivered on the ground.
“But there is nearly always a need for some clarification as new legislation beds in. That’s what this revised guidance is about. It aims to help local authorities ensure the act is being effectively delivered where it matters – out there in our towns and cities.
“And as the new laws put local councils in the driving seat, we want to hear from them if they think we can improve the guidance further.”
The findings of a group of 10 scrutiny councils, which monitored the impact of the Licensing Act between November 2005 and June 2006, have informed the revisions to the guidance.
In addition the DCMS has consulted with key stakeholders, including local authorities, the licensed trade and residents’ representatives in making the changes.
Notes to editors
1. The revised draft guidance to the Licensing Act 2003 is available on the DCMS website.
2. Contributions to the consultation should be sent to:
Licensing Guidance Review Team
Department for Culture, Media and Sport
2-4 Cockspur Street
Or send your contribution by email.
The closing date for representations is 11 April 2007.
3. The review of the guidance to the act was launched on 1 December 2005 as a two stage process: an initial phase, the results of which were published in June 2006, and the longer term review being launched today.
4. The Licensing Act 2003 received Royal Assent on 10th July 2003. Its reforms came into effect in full on 24 November 2005. The four statutory objectives of the act are:
• the prevention of crime and disorder;
• public safety;
• the prevention of public nuisance; and
• the protection of children from harm.
Further details of the act can be found on the DCMS website.
5. The scrutiny council initiative was formally launched on 25 November 2005 and ran until June 2006. During this time, DCMS officials visited each council, collecting information and data about the practical implementation of the Act. The information provided is informing DCMS’s wider monitoring and evaluation programme and fed into the ongoing review of the licensing guidance. The full report can be found on the DCMS website.