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Licensing news England and Wales - February 2017

TLT's monthly newsletter covering up to date stories of interest to premises licence operators and professionals involved in alcohol, entertainment, late night refreshment and gambling.

This month in summary

Licensing News

TLT meet London's Night Czar 

As London's new Night Czar, Amy Lamé continues to consult the licensed industry, she formally met TLT's Julian Skeens and Luke Elford to discuss London's night time economy and how a night time culture can be developed in the capital (and beyond).

Julian Skeens said, "It was a great pleasure to meet with Amy, who is so extremely passionate about London being a truly 24 hour city of culture. We were pleased to share our views on policy and feel that her influence will be a breath of fresh air."

Among the subjects discussed were Business Improvement Districts (BIDs) and Late Night Levies (LNLs), as well as Cumulative Impact Policies/Stress Areas and the Agent of Change principle. TLT look forward to working with Amy as she puts her vision into practice. 

Policing and Crime Act 2017 will not yet be enforced

The government has announced that it will not implement any of the new Act, which came into force on the 21 January 2017, until the Select Committee has considered recommendations received in relation to its implementation.

It would appear that this is likely to delay implementation until October 2017 at the earliest, with a rolling program of sections implemented thereafter into 2018. The Act will, eventually, introduce changes that will have a significant effect on licensing legislation, including in relation to personal licences, summary reviews and offences.

We will keep you updated. 

Tower Hamlets Introduces Late Night Levy

The Tower Hamlets Late Night Levy scheme has received council assent.

The fee period is between midnight and 6am with the levy coming into force on 1 June 2017. The council have set the Free minor variation period for those premises licence holders wishing to avoid paying the levy between 1 February to 31 April 2017.

For those paying the levy, there is a 30% reduction for premises in the Best Bar None scheme, with exemption from paying the levy for alcohol sales past midnight on New Year's Eve, premises with overnight accommodation (for residents only), theatres and cinemas (audience only), bingo Halls (Bingo primary activity), community amateur sports clubs and community Premises

Gambling News

Horseracing Betting Levy reform announced

On the 14 January, the government announced that it intends to introduce a reformed Horseracing Betting Levy in April 2017.

The principle purpose of the reform is to ensure that any gambling business that takes bets from customers located in Britain on horseraces held in Britain will be liable to pay 10% of gross profits from such bets. The first £500,000 of gross profit will be exempt for the purpose of the calculations.

The stated intention is to ensure that regardless of the location of the operator, a levy is paid on all bets by British customers on British horseracing events.

For the short-term, until early 2018, the Horseracing Betting Levy Board will administer the changes. They can be contacted by emailing  hblb@hblb.org.uk.

Gambling Commission proposes tougher controls on licence holders

The Gambling Commission has announced a new enforcement strategy that will punish operators more severely for failures to deal with problem gambling and money laundering.

Previously, operators found to have breached either regulations or codes of conduct would often be able to reach a voluntary settlement with the Gambling Commission, with high profile examples in 2016 making the national press.

Sarah Harrison, the Gambling Commission Chief Executive, has warned that she will not accept a blanket approach of reaching settlements, with higher fines, licence reviews and ultimately revocations of licences all being considered for offences, especially repeat offences, where there is either money laundering or problem gambling involved.

In a speech to senior industry figures, she called on companies to heed the warnings and proactively look to ensure that systems in place were robust and fit for purpose.

Out and About

January saw a number of hearings across the country as the councils geared up again after the festive period.

In one particular  case, the council licensing officer managed to get residents to agree to attend a meeting with the applicants for a variation to a premises licence prior to the hearing. At the meeting, we were able to set out the plans for the premises and the residents were able to voice concerns about the previous operator. The meeting concluded with four of the five residents withdrawing their representations.

Whilst a hearing was still required, having obtained the withdrawals allowed the committee to feel comfortable granting the application without any amendments.

The atmosphere in the committee chamber was very different to what it might have been, had the officer introducing the case been required to say that the applicant turned down a chance to meet the residents beforehand. 

This publication is intended for general guidance and represents our understanding of the relevant law and practice as at February 2017. Specific advice should be sought for specific cases. For more information see our terms & conditions.

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