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Licensing news England and Wales - December 2016

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Christmas and New Year: preparing for the festive rush

Christmas and New Year celebrations often bring out the best in people. It's the one time of year that people celebrate with family, colleagues and friends, often by visiting places they would not ordinarily visit. The opportunity to bring in a new customer base, as well as ensure loyal customers end their year with a bang mean that Christmas can be a profitable time for all.

But in the midst of all the celebrations, there are a number of potential hazards that it is worth pausing to consider. Most are related to the fact that the people who are usually quite reserved tend to let their hair down - and will be egged on by colleagues and friends to do so. Often, these people can be quite vulnerable in terms of quickly getting a little too much Christmas spirit inside them. It is important that staff are extra-vigilant, as often it will be others buying them drinks, so glass collectors and floor managers should be alive to this. Having a plan in place to assist these people, rather than relying on their friends is not only good practice, but will be really appreciated the next day.

Similarly someone will inevitably suggest continuing the party at a nightclub. Others will be roped in against their will, so late night venues often bear the brunt of large groups turning up en masse. Obviously, this can be great for business, but a careful assessment of each member of the group needs to be made to ensure that you are not simply mounting up trouble for later. Those deemed too drunk to come in will again need to be cared for.

New Year's Eve events can be a great source of income if you make it a celebration package including food, music and dancing. All the reports on customer behaviour show that whilst customers are going out on fewer occasions, when they do, they are looking for something special. Providing it all under one roof is an ideal way of leveraging this trend.

Finally, check your licence for any restrictions before shelling out fortunes on high profile events, or activities outside of your normal licence activities. Non-compliance with your licence can bring on a post festive-season hangover if you get caught.

Above all else, a very merry Christmas, a prosperous New Year to you all.

Fabric re-opens after agreement reached with Islington council

Following the closure of Fabric on summary review in September, the operators of the club have come to an agreement with Islington Council prior to the hearing of the appeal that has allowed it to re-open.

Part of the reported agreement is an overhaul of management procedures and a raft of new and amended conditions on the premises licence. These are designed to deal with the council licensing committee's findings at the review that there was a serious issue with drugs within the venue. Islington Council said the changes, offered by Fabric, were "designed to ensure a zero-tolerance approach" to drugs.

Conditions include a ban on anyone under the age of 19 entering the venue between 8pm on Friday and 8am on Monday and a condition requiring anyone found in possession of drugs in the club, or who tries to buy drugs, to be handed a life ban from the venue.

London Late Night Tsar to lead the way for 24-hour London

London Mayor Sadiq Khan has stated that he wants to make London a 24-hour city that’s open to all. Perhaps he has not read Westminster, Islington or Hackney's licensing policies - to name a few.

According to the statistics provided by the Mayor's office, London’s night-time economy brings in £26.3 billion to the economy every year and supports one in eight of the city’s jobs.

The running of the Night Tube, alongside night buses is hoped to open up new opportunities for Londoners and tourists, and by their reckoning will create around 2,000 permanent jobs and boost the city’s economy by £360 million.

In order to achieve these stated aims, London’s new Night Tsar, Amy Lamé, has been tasked to champion the capital’s vibrant night-time economy. Her duties will include:

  • being an ambassador for London as a 24-hour world city;
  • creating a vision for a 24-hour London in tandem with local councils, the police, businesses and the Chair of the Mayor’s Night-Time Commission;
  • developing a road map to make that vision reality working with local councils, businesses, and agencies like TFL and the Metropolitan Police;
  • using the Night Tube as an opportunity to broaden and boost London’s evening and night-time economy; and
  • ensuring the night-time economy is developed in a way that considers people’s need for rest and public safety.
  • Her appointment follows hot on the heels of the Mayor's public support for Fabric during the review process and for nightlife in London in general. As Amy Lamé settles into her new role, we shall see if the borough licensing authorities take up the rallying cry with as much enthusiasm. 

Leeds apply for Purple Flag status

Leeds City Council has applied for Purple Flag status, the latest city to do so in the UK. Purple Flag is an accreditation process similar to the Green Flag award for parks and the Blue Flag for beaches. Purple Flag status is granted for town and city centres that meet or surpass the standards of excellence in managing the evening and night time economy.

If awarded Purple Flag status, Leeds will be joining cities such as Bristol, Liverpool, Sheffield, Bournemouth and a number of London boroughs in having this increasingly important accreditation.

Gambling News

New report indicates 450,000 children gamble every week

The Gambling Commission's Young People and Gambling report has indicated that 450,000 children are gambling in England and Wales every week. The study also indicates that around 9,000 of these are likely to be problem gamblers. 

The findings indicate that the overall rate of gambling among 11-15 year-olds is around 16%. This figure compares to 5% of 11-15 year-olds who have smoked and 8% who have drunk alcohol in the last week, while 6% have taken drugs in the last month. 

The Gambling Commission imposes strict rules on gambling businesses to prevent and tackle underage gambling and take firm action where young people are not properly protected. In light of the report and to prevent criticisms that the Gambling Commission are not taking the matter seriously, one can expect a rise in both test purchasing and investigations into due diligence systems that gambling providers have in place to prevent under-age gambling.

Online gambling is now the largest gambling sector in Britain 

Gambling Commission Statistics reveal that online gambling now makes up 33% of all gambling in Britain.

Online Gambling's gross yield outstrips traditional favourites such as the high street and the National Lottery.

The full statistics can be accessed here

Out and About

We have been kept busy with various hearings and meetings around the country. Colleagues from Bristol, London and Scotland all presented at the Institute of Licensing annual conference in Stratford-upon-Avon. Of particular interest, unsurprisingly, were the changes that would be brought about by the Policing and Crime Bill and the recent Immigration Act. Also,  the possible changes to licensing law that might be recommended by the House of Lords when they report on ten years of the Licensing Act in March next year. 2017 may prove to be a busy and interesting year in licensing as well as politics.


This publication is intended for general guidance and represents our understanding of the relevant law and practice as at December 2016. Specific advice should be sought for specific cases. For more information see our terms & conditions.

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