I have certainly had operators criticise a range of decisions that have either restricted their business or at worst, caused their business to close.
A familiar one is planning permission that has been granted to build residential accommodation above or near their licensed premises. Others are local authorities looking to increase their cumulative impact areas with little or no resistance or deciding to adopt a late-night levy. I have even had the police wanting to generally apply restrictive conditions such as requiring customers to be breathalysed before entry into drink-led premises. One that is regularly missed, are proposals to regenerate area in a city centre to create a more offices or a retail-led environment and hence, squeezing out licensed venues.
What permeates all the above processes is that someone would have suggested the change and there would then be discussions or public consultations on a local or national level. The art is to get involved at an early stage if you want to be heard and potentially make a change. However, you need to be aware of what’s going on in the world of licensed premises operations. So, here are some ideas:
- Keep an eye on planning application notices on premises or in the newspapers and make objections or representations
- Make a habit of speaking to your planning, council licensing and police licensing officers. They will have information and be able to update you on local initiatives and regeneration plans
- Every local authority’s licensing department is required under the Licensing Act 2003 to have a licensing policy that gives guidance as to how the licensing department will deal with determining applications and other related licensing matters. The licensing authorities are required to review that policy at least every five years. Any changes results in a consultation exercise
- Be actively involved in the authorities’ consultation processes because you may wish to comment on matters such as an increase of a cumulative impact area or the introduction of a late-night levy
- Do not ignore invitations to trade meetings such as Pubwatch or Institute of Licensing meetings. These can be a great source of information relating to local and national licensing matters
- There is power in numbers, so share your concerns with other operations and, if appropriate, with head office
In these difficult times, making sure you are involved and proactive rather than being reactive could prevent your business from being adversely affected.
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