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Licensing news England and Wales - June 2017

This month in summary

Licensing news

Gambling news

Licensing News

London Borough of Tower Hamlets re-consult on Late Night Levy

Following the Judicial Review against the decision of Tower Hamlets to introduce a late night levy (LNL), which resulted in the council accepting that their previous consultation had been flawed, the council has decided to undertake a new consultation.

The council are consulting on the introduction of a levy from 24 May 2017 to midnight on 23 August 2017. All parties who previously responded will need to go through the process and update their previous submissions.

The council is consulting on the introduction of a LNL for premises authorised to sell/supply alcohol between midnight and 6am to be introduced on 1 January 2018.  

Liverpool Late Night Levy to go ahead following failed High Court challenge

An application for Judicial Review of Liverpool's LNL has failed following a ruling from the High Court refusing permission for the claim. The case had been brought by a local operator on the basis that the full council failed to take into account the advice of the licensing committee not to grant the levy. They also argued that the councillors had only voted for grant following pressure from their party whips.

In dismissing the claim, the Court found that it was perfectly acceptable for a committee to go against the recommendation of a subordinate body, in this case the licensing committee, and that the political system entitled parties to 'whip' their councillors to vote a certain way.

The levy was introduced on 1 April 2017 and will continue to have effect.

Government gives go-ahead for the implementation of a 'sugar tax'

Any hopes that the soft-drinks industry levy, popularly referred to as the sugar tax, would be shelved have dissolved. Parliament has re-stated its approval for the implementation of the levy in early 2018.

Sugary soft drinks that fall into the over 5g of sugar per 100ml or more than 8g per 100ml will be charged 18p and 24p per litre respectively.

Exemptions will be permitted for milk based drinks, chilled coffee drinks, pure fruit juice and drinks with less sugar that in the above bands.

It is expected that the drinks producers will pass on the cost of the levy to their customers, meaning the final cost will likely be passed on to customers buying the drinks. 

Pubwatch at 20

National Pubwatch, the voluntary organisation promoting best practice in town and city centres nationwide, is 20 years old.

During that time, the organisation has helped to develop over 600 active Pubwatch groups and has produced several versions of their good practice guide in that time, the first one being published in 1999.

Pubwatch schemes, when operated proactively, have played a part in reducing crime and disorder in their areas, through the use of banning schemes and implementation of best practice. They have also been key in establishing links with police and council licensing teams, where information can be shared and problems identified.

Each scheme is reliant on its active members for success and whilst lots of licences have conditions requiring attendance by landlords and managers, some schemes have fallen over for lack of active support from the premises in the area.

More information can be found on the National Pubwatch website.

Gambling News

Greene King Brewing and Retailing Ltd v Gambling Commission

Greene King had appealed a decision of the Upper Tribunal which upheld the Gambling Commission's decision that the Commission were entitled to refuse an operating licence for high stakes bingo to be conducted in eight Greene King pubs. Whilst Greene King were deemed fit to be operating licence holders, the refusal centered on the deemed unsuitability to offer this form of gambling in pubs. The Court of Appeal held that the Gambling Commission and Upper Tribunal where right and the original refusal on the grounds that, to grant it would be inconsistent with the licensing objectives flowing from the unsuitability of pubs was within the power and discretion of the Commission. 

Biannual Gambling industry statistics published by the Gambling Commission

The full report can be accessed here but the headline figures covering October 2015 and September 2016 are:

  • £13.8 billion total gross gambling yield of the Great Britain gambling industry
  • £4.5 billion total gross gambling yield for the remote sector
  • 32% market share of the remote sector
  • 106,678 total number of employees in the gambling industry
  • 8,788 total number of betting shops
  • 176,410 total number of gambling machines
  • 583 total number of bingo premises
  • 147 total number of casinos
  • 1,729 total number of licensed arcades
  • £1.7 billion contributions to good causes from the National Lottery
  • £231.8 million contributions to good causes from large society lotteries

Out and About

As politicians set about traversing the country throughout May in a bid to court votes, TLT's licensing team were hot on their heels, albeit at hearings rather than the hustings.

These included hearings in Godalming, Nottingham, Torquay and in various committees in London, as well as industry events and meetings around the country.

Despite the significant criticism contained in the House of Lords report, reported upon previously, in relation to the standard of police evidence, we are still seeing forces present every scrap of information they can in hearing bundles of up to 300 pages length. There has to be question marks as to the relevance to the committee of such bundles and indeed whether such an approach actually detracts from the police case. Part of the problem is that there is no national guidance given to police forces on presenting evidence at licensing committees, which would assist in ensuring that a more standard and reasonable approach is taken. For now, it looks like all parties are going to have to periodically wade through papers seeking the needles in the haystacks. 

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

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