A report from the Licensing Manager had been circulated in advance and provided an update on the activities of the Licensing Service under the Licensing Act 2003, the Gambling Act 2005, Taxi legislation and general licensing including street trading and pavement licences.
Prior to the Licensing Manager presenting the report, the legal advisor to the Committee, Giles Salter, provided the following legal advice regarding a member of the Committee who was currently self isolating and was participating in the meeting remotely via the Zoom app.
Mr Salter referred to the recent High Court ruling which stated that when Councillors were exercising their functions under the Local Government Act 1972 regarding taxi licensing and general policy decisions, Councillors should be present together in a place where they would debate and register their decision. Members were present at this meeting in the Council Chamber for this purpose. Item 8 on the agenda [Gambling Policy report] is an item under the Gambling Act 2005 regarding consultation on the Gambling Policy. As the Gambling Act sits outside the Committee’s functions under the Local Government Act 1972, the legal advice was that Councillor Millar, who was present remotely, could participate fully in item 8 and could debate, make recommendations and vote on that item.
With regard to all other agenda items [7, 9 and 10], the legal advice was that Cllr Millar could speak, but could not make recommendations or vote as he was not present in the Council Chamber.
The Licensing Manager highlighted the following points from the report:
· The report detailed the increase in applications for premises licences which was also a national trend currently
· It was anticipated that the Licensing Service would also see an increase in applications for Temporary Event Notices (TENs) as a result of the new draft legislation to increase TENs limits and extend off-sales of alcohol
· There was an increase in applications for outdoor music and bars which were coming under scrutiny from local residents
· The increased work load for the Licensing Service continued to present challenges for the staffing level which had resulted in the recommendation to enable recruitment of the additional posts as identified in the report
· The background to the request for the additional budget was explained to the Committee
· Despite the challenges, there was no backlog of work and the team was motivated and working effectively.
The Chair requested that the Committee’s thanks be passed to the members of the Licensing Team.
In response to the report, the following points were discussed:
· There was a need to be proactive rather than reactive in response to the increasing workload resulting from changes in the volume and nature of applications due to the Covid-19 pandemic and changes in society generally
· The relationship between the four licensing objectives and the Council’s Licensing Policy was explained as there was concern that there was confusion among local residents when making representations on applications as to how the objectives and the Policy fit together
· There was an opportunity for training for Members of the Committee who had not been trained previously and it was noted that this would enable more Members to be available to sit on the Sub Committee to determine licensing applications
· Management of the trading pitches for Sidmouth Folk Week had been handed over to the Streetscene Events team and income generated would go to the Streetscene service
The vote on the recommendation in the report was taken by roll call. The following Members voted in favour of the recommendation; Cllrs J Whibley, K Bloxham, M Chapman, A Dent, S Gazzard, M Hartnell, G Pratt, B Taylor and T Wright.
There were no votes against and no abstentions.
1. That the report be noted
2. That the recommendation be made to full Council to approve the additional budget of £40,545 to enable recruitment of the additional posts as identified in the report.
RECOMMENDATION TO FULL COUNCIL
That Council approves the additional budget of £40,545 to enable recruitment of the additional posts as identified in the report [Committee Update report].