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Home / Business / Licensing / Bournemouth Borough Council's Response to Home Office Consultation – Night Time Levy and EMRO

Bournemouth Borough Council's Response to Home Office Consultation – Night Time Levy and EMRO

Response from Bournemouth Borough Council

The following response to the consultation document “Dealing with the Problems of Late Night Drinking” A consultation on Secondary Legislation for the Late Night Levy and Early Morning Restriction Orders” has been approved by the Licensing Authority at Bournemouth Borough Council following internal consultation with Councillors, senior officers and external consultation with the various public forums and trade groups.

The following response considers the key objectives, which are;

  • To grant local discretion to licensing authorities in deciding which categories of business should make a contribution to the late night Levy.
  • To encourage participation in best practice schemes. A positive outcome of this regime would be the flourishing of community action amongst the licensed trade.
  • To allow licensing authorities to reduce the burden of the Levy on businesses such as hotels, community premises and theatres, should they feel it appropriate in their area.
  • To allow licensing authorities to remove the burden of licence variations and temporary Event Notices around New Years Eve.
  • To set an appropriate charge and make well-designed provisions for adopting the Levy and passing on funds raised to support local services that would help to uphold the Licensing Objectives.

We further understand that after regulations have been made (following the consultation) the late night Levy policy (as a whole) will have a number of projected successful outcomes. First and foremost, the police will be provided with further resources. They can then redirect these resources in line with local priorities. Second, licensing authorities may have more money to provide vital services such as taxi marshals, town wardens or additional street cleansing. Third, the Government hopes that the Levy will strengthen partnerships between licensing authorities and the police. The two partners should work together to best allocate the funds in line with the nature of the local late night economy (Bournemouth Borough Council and Dorset Police currently have a strong partnership).

The objectives of EMRO regulations are:

  • To ensure that any EMRO adopted does not apply to certain types of business.
  • To make well-designed provision for the process of adopting/amending/scrapping any EMRO.

If an EMRO is adopted it may provide licensing authorities with an additional tool to shape and determine local licensing. As a result of any EMRO being in place, specific problem areas and problem times may see a reduction in alcohol related crime and disorder.

The estimated income has not yet been considered, but it is our submission that any exemption should be decided locally and should not be a blanket exemption for a particular type of premises.

The consultation document contains 18 questions, which are provided below along with our considered response.

Consultation Questions

Part 1 - Early Morning Restriction Orders

Q1. Do you think that the proposed processes for Early Morning Restriction Orders include sufficient consultation with those likely to be affected by an EMRO?

Answer:

Yes, although concerns raised by the EMRO process map at Annex A of the document are;

  • Does the EMRO process concentrate on crime and disorder or all four licensing objectives? This is not clear.
  • In what circumstances will hearings be required? This is not clear.
  • The penultimate step of the process map states that ‘the final Order must be no different to the original Order proposed’. Can the Order be modified if the measures within it are lessened without the need to repeat the whole process?

    A simple notification on the Council’s website is welcomed. The above notification is then followed by direct notification to all responsible authorities, holders of club premises certificates and holders of premises licences in the authority area. It is of concern that we notify everyone in the LA area; should this not be to those directly affected in the immediate vicinity? This burden is then further compounded to include reasonable steps to advertise the proposed Order to residents and others who may be adversely affected by the proposed Order. We suggest that an advert in the local newspaper circulating in the area is the chosen method, if so the cost for each legal notice is approximately £300.00 to £400.00.

    Where representations are received from affected persons the LA must hold a hearing. The LA must give good notice of the hearing. The LA considers notification of representations via its website as the most cost effective method.

    The LA is concerned about a possible risk of displacement with clubbers being attracted to unofficial events in residential areas.

    Once the Order has been initially accepted by Full Council the Licensing Board should have delegated powers thereafter.

    It is not clear from the process what the notification procedures are.

    We assume that the cost of enforcement will fall to the Police who will prosecute for unauthorised licensable activity. However, is it in the legislator’s mind that the LA, as the body introducing any EMRO, has responsibility for its enforcement?

Q2. The government proposes that EMROs will not apply (i.e. will not restrict alcohol sales) between midnight on 31st December and 6am on 1st January of each year. Do you think that EMROs should apply on New Years Eve?

Answer:

No – Any EMRO should not apply on New Years Eve.

 

Q3. Do you agree or disagree that the categories of premises above (in Q2) should be exempt from EMROs?

Answer:

Local Authorities should have discretion to impose exemptions as flexibly as appropriate in response to local needs.

It is our submission that the Licensing Authority should have the power to exempt premises, but such decisions should be based on local knowledge, faith in management and premises history. It may be perfectly feasible to allow a restaurant, theatre, cinema or community premises to open while restricting the sale of alcohol at other premises, but this local discretion will be based on a risk assessment.

 

Q4. Do you have any other suggestions on the types of premises that should be considered for an exemption from EMROs?

Answer:

If a list of exemptions is to be prescribed by government this should not include premises with late night refreshment licences nor should this include 24 hour off-licences/supermarkets.

 

Part 2 - The Late Night Levy

We understand that Regulation will prescribe details of the process for adoption, but in the meantime the proposals are set out in Annex B of the consultation document.

We work closely with Dorset Police and agree with the proposal to consult widely on whether it is appropriate to introduce the Levy.

 

Q5. Do you think that there should be an option for local residents/community groups to recommend the implementation of the Levy in their area?

Answer:

No. However, local residents/community groups must be given the opportunity to comment on the proposal to introduce or not introduce the Levy, which will be for the entire Borough.

 

Q6. Do you agree or disagree that licensing authorities should be able to exempt these premises from the Levy. Agree or Disagree?

Answer:

Agree with the exemptions suggested at page 11 of the document along with any others necessary at local discretion.

 

Q7. Do you agree or disagree that licensing authorities should be able to exempt Business Improvement Districts from the late night Levy?

Answer:

Disagree – due to the concentration of licensed premises found in the BID areas.

 

Q8. Do you think that premises operating under a club premises certificate should be exempt from the late night Levy?

Answer:

No. It is our submission, similar to that of any EMRO, that the Licensing Authority should have the power to exempt premises, but such decisions should be based on local knowledge, faith in management and premises history. It may be perfectly feasible to allow a Club to open while restricting the sale of alcohol at other premises, but this local decision will be based on a risk assessment that will also include our additional concern, which is one of displacement.

 

Q9. What are your views on affording a reduction from the late night Levy to businesses that receive small business rate relief?

Answer:

No.

 

Q10. Do you agree that there should be an exemption for New Years Eve?

Answer:

Yes.

 

Q11. Do you agree or disagree that licensing authorities should be able to ask for a reduced Levy payment from these premises?

Answer:

Best practice should be encouraged, but premises must still make a contribution to enforcement costs albeit through the Levy. The LA also believes the Levy should also apply to late night refreshment outlets and to the off trade operating after Midnight.

The late night refreshment available in the town contributes to keeping people within the town. Crime and disorder both inside and outside of late night refreshment premises and the litter that their customers leave behind is a cost that should be included and the Levy imposed to mitigate the effects.

 

Q12. Do you have any suggestions for benchmarks that can be applied to grassroots schemes to ensure members are actively working to reduce crime and disorder?

Answer:

Benchmarks which are covered in existing schemes.

 

Q13. Do you agree or disagree with the set-up of cumulative discounts?

Answer:

Yes, if the scheme contributes to the night time economy as a whole and is not only concerned with their own business to the detriment of the town as a whole. If the business is part of the BID and can demonstrate that it contributes to the night time economy in line with the Levy contribution if imposed then an incentive could be offered. 

The Best Bar None scheme is an effective one and we actively encourage participation. It is important in the reduction of crime and disorder. We would like to be able to consider discounts for each scheme in addition to participation in a BID.

The Levy should apply to all premises that choose to operate between midnight and 6am, which may include community premises, community pubs, social clubs, late night hot food outlets whether alcohol is sold or not, pubs and clubs, supermarkets and late night off licences.

 

Q14. Should there be scope for further exemptions and reductions from the late night Levy?

Answer:

No, if you operate between midnight and 6am you should pay the Levy with some incentives where the business contributes to the cost of managing the night time economy.

 

Q15. What activities do you think licensing authorities should be able to fund with their retained proportion?

Answer:

We have not at this stage calculated the net income, but should the Levy be adopted and resources permit we envisage using the income as follows:

  1. Taxi Marshalls – to cover more ranks and additional evenings;
  2. The Safe Bus – the bus itself and resources required to operate at least every Friday and Saturday, preferably also Thursday evening;
  3. Licensing officers and Noise Pollution Officers in partnership with Dorset Police will ensure compliance with licence conditions and prevent noise pollution during the evening;
  4. Street cleansing;
  5. Alcohol and Health Education;
  6. Promote and extend the Best Bar None scheme to all licensed premises;
  7. Enforcement of the Levy or any EMRO from collection to hearings to appeals before the Magistrates;
  8. Night Club Chaplaincy;
  9. CCTV.

The LA would welcome clarification as to how the Police Forces will allocate their 70% of the Levy.

 

Q16. What restrictions do you think there should be on the types of services that licensing authorities will be able to fund?

Answer:

The Licensing Authority should be able to fund additional measures.

It should be for each licensing authority to determine what type of activity, such as those indicated above. However, it should also be used to train licensing officers and those tasked with enforcement of the Licensing Act during the evening, which most importantly includes the four Licensing Objectives.

 

Q17. If you have any comments on the Impact Assessment, please detail them here?

There is little analysis contained within the document re pre-loading. The LA believes strongly that pre-loading drives much of the crime and disorder and public nuisance that takes place in our town. We feel that the consultation should have considered off sales before midnight more closely.

 

Comments On The Impact Assessment

While out of scope for this exercise, the provision of Late Night Refreshment and the impact that this type of business has on a town centre or other area of a Borough, should be assessed.

They encourage people to stay in the vicinity to purchase food, which can have a positive effect on the individual who has consumed alcohol. However, they also create a flashpoint for crime and disorder or anti-social behaviour with customers leaving the remnants of food and packaging behind when they leave our town centres.

Premises that provide Late Night Refreshment significantly contribute to the night time economy with significant income gained from operating between midnight and 5am (a licence is required to operate between 23.00hrs and 05.00hrs, but many operate 24/7 and some only open when the night time economy operates because of the significant income).

We urge Government to consider premises licensed to provide late night refreshment in this review. Although they do not sell alcohol, they should make a contribution based on their rateable value. 

 

The Late Night Levy

The Licensing Authority will collect the Levy following adoption, and deduct the costs incurred in administering and introducing the scheme. Following this deduction at least 70% of the net amount MUST be passed to the police.

 

Questions to Government – It is assumed that the total cost of introducing the Levy will be recovered in the first year, with the administration and enforcement of collecting the Levy each year thereafter.

 

Is the enforcement of non-payment of the Levy to be recovered by way of an administration charge or suspension of the licence for non-payment of a fee due to the Authority?

 

Is any appeal against the introduction of the Levy covered by way of an administration charge?

Comment – the cost of administration will be significant in the first year. The cost of enforcing the provisions of the Levy should not be underestimated each year thereafter. If the penalty for non-payment of the Levy is significant e.g. suspension of licence, which in itself brings enforcement costs to ensure the suspension is upheld, then the cost of collecting the Levy should be reasonable, but must be recovered by way of an administrative cost to the licensing authority.

 

Q18. If you are responding on behalf of a licensing authority, how many premises do you expect will be affected by EMROs in your area?

Answer:

Whilst we do not know the number of premises affected by any EMRO the number of licensed premises within Bournemouth Borough Council is 822.

Related Information

 

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