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Licensing news England and Wales - September 2017

This month in summary

Licensing news

Tower Hamlets vote to introduce Late Night Levy

The full council has voted to introduce the Late Night Levy in their borough. The tax on premises selling alcohol after midnight will take effect from 1 January 2018.

The levy will affect all premises selling alcohol between midnight and 6am, with an exemption for New Year's Eve.

Further exemptions have been granted for:

  • overnight accommodation (for residents only);
  • theatres and cinemas (audience only);
  • bingo Halls (Bingo primary activity);
  • community Amateur Sports Clubs; and
  • community premises

A reduction of 30% for premises will be granted for premises accredited in the local Best Bar None scheme.

For premises wishing to avoid paying the levy, but currently permitted to sell alcohol after midnight, a free minor variation can be made to reduce hours between 25 September and 18 December 2017.

Failure to pay the levy will result in the suspension of the premises licence.

Lessons learned from Mayweather v McGregor fight

The fight at the end of August generated a significant amount of interest around the world and a number of pubs and bars looked to make the most of the opportunity by screening the fight.

For the majority, this meant applying for a temporary event notice, but for some premises they were able to rely on conditions on their licences that permitted late opening for sports events. Others still took the chance to have a few friends around for a private party.

However, a number of issues arose that are worth looking at in a little more detail.

TENs

A lot of applications were made online through the gov.uk website. The system is supposed to make it easier for applicants, with the applications sent to the relevant authority and payment accepted on-line (which is often a bugbear with certain local authority applications).

However, due to glitches in the system, some applications were not forwarded by the system to the correct authority. Some applicants received confirmation from the site that their application had been successfully lodged and the fee accepted- including confirmation that the correct council had been sent the documents, however, when they checked with the authority, they had not received either the application or fee. In some cases we are aware of, the reference number they were given was duplicated with other applications sent to other authorities.

We suspect that there were a lot more applications made for the fight where this happened and neither the local authority nor the applicant realised there was something amiss.

The only advice we can give, therefore, is to apply early and give enough time to check receipt and acceptance of applications with the council, so that if there is a problem, it can be rectified.

Conditions allowing for late opening to show sports

Often such conditions require notification to either the police, or licensing, or both to be complied with. Even if they don't we would always suggest dropping the officers a line to say this is what you are doing as they will not have a copy of the licence with them as they drive past and see you operating apparently out of hours.

There may also be requirements such as closing for an hour prior to re-opening, or selling alcohol in plastic glasses. Make sure you check carefully what you are required to do and comply with all requirements.

Private parties in pubs

The problem with private parties in licensed premises is that everyone will suspect that you are having a lock-in. Any sales of alcohol, even at private parties where there is no licence to do so is illegal. You can give alcohol away, but always remember how it will look to the outside world. The last thing you want to be doing is going to the police station to an interview under caution and having to provide evidence that you were not selling alcohol or otherwise holding any kind of public party. Once again, giving your local police licensing officer advance warning can assist here, but don't try to bend the rules as if the police aren't watching, there's every chance a local resident is.

Old £1 coins due to be phased out as legal tender

From Monday 16 October, the old style round £1 coin will no longer be legal tender. Whilst banks should still accept the coin for the purposes of banking takings, such coins should not be distributed to customers after this date.

There is no obligation to accept the old-style £1 coins after this date, but it would be prudent to ensure there is a coherent policy in place and that customers are notified in advance if the old style coins will no longer be accepted.

In relation to the new £10 note that came into circulation on the 14 September, it is not expected that the old note will go out of circulation until Spring 2018. 

Gambling news

Gambling Commission targets students considered potentially at risk from gambling

New figure released by the Gambling Commission suggests that as many as 1.2 million students gamble, a figure they put at two in three of the total student body. With the new academic year starting, they have been publicising the dangers for students who might be particularly vulnerable to debt and other issues associated with regular gambling.

As part of this approach, the Gambling Commission have been encouraging universities to take the issue of gambling as seriously as they do matters such as drugs, alcohol and safe sex.

A document specifically aimed at students has been released setting out 10 ways students can keep themselves safe when gambling. This can be found here.

Links are included within the document to Gambleaware and Gamcare in case students feel that they need support.  

Out and about

For TLT's licensing team, August swapped between holidays away and the usual rounds of hearings and meetings. We have been to various London Boroughs, Nottingham, Bristol, Birmingham and Pembrokeshire, to name some of the places visited during the month. Whilst the roads always seem a little quieter, pub gardens and outside spaces tend, when the sun shines, to be much busier, which leads to its own problems for operators.

However, with September storms likely to restrict the amount of time customers want to enjoy a pint outside, the appetite for making complaints that comes from residents living near pubs will hopefully be dampened. Unfortunately it happens alongside our own feelings of another summer gone, as nights close in.

On the bright side, we can look forward to cosy drinks and food by the open fires- adopting the spirit of 'hygge' that the Danes have imported so successfully in recent years! 

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


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