Memorandum submitted by Committee of Registered
Clubs Association (CORCA)
1. I am responding on behalf of CORCA to
your invitation to submit its views on the effects of the Licensing
Act 2003 for consideration by the Culture, Media and Sport Select
CORCA comprises the club organisations listed
on this letterhead which together represent about 4500 affiliated
non-profit making private members' clubs in England and Wales.
These are working men's, political, ex-service, coal industry
welfare clubs; and a small number of West End Clubs on whose behalf
the Association of London Clubs may be making a separate submission.
2. Our comments on the five aspects about
which the Committee seeks views are as follows:
(i) Public Nuisance etc
From a necessarily limited clubs perspective
we are not aware of any significant change in regard to public
nuisance, night-time offences, or public safety. The commercial
sector, regulators, police and the general public participating
in the evening and late night urban economy could more meaningfully
contribute a view. Some of our clubs have experienced an increase
in regulatory action in response to alleged noise disturbance.
(ii) Live Music
The performance of live music in CORCA member
clubs has not lessened by virtue of the direct impact of the 2003
Act; more particularly it has reduced because of cost cutting
enforced by a significant downturn in clubs' financial capacity
due to a variety of factors including Licensing Act costs.
(iii) ClubsFinancial Impact
(a) The main financial impact of the Act
on our clubs arose from the requirement to convert from registration
under the Licensing Act 1964 to authorisation by Club Premises
Certificate (CPC). This involved producing premises plans, advertising
and lengthy form filling. It fell to CORCA organisations to educate
their member clubs in the relevant procedures but some clubs resorted
to legal practitioners at additional cost. A club could well have
incurred associated costs (over and above Licensing Act fees)
of up to £1,000.
(b) The 2003 Act fees structure based on
rateable value makes no distinction between commercial premises
and not for profit private members' clubs. A typical club falls
into Band B so the fee for migrating from the 1964 Act to the
2003 Act was £190, with an annual fee thereafter of £180.
This is massively in excess of the £16 payable previously
to renew a 1964 Act Registration which magistrates had discretion
to grant for up to 10 years duration. Our understanding is that
the Elton Committee's review of fees concluded that they should
be further increased across the board by about 7% from 2007-08,
though as far as we are aware Ministers have yet to respond. We
appreciate that fees are intended to effect full cost recovery
but question the blunt instrument approach adopted, based apparently
on the purported savings in administrative costs to licensees
of £99 million a year (DCMS evaluation paper March 2008).
We would contend that little if any of this saving accrued to
clubs. The merger of several licensing regimes into a single uniform
system mainly benefited commercial operators, the principal gain
being the demise of public entertainment licensing which, given
their private character, rarely applied to CORCA clubs.
(a) The Act is in our view significantly
more bureaucratic for clubs than the old registration system and
its requirements involved a huge culture change. The forms are
lengthy and not user friendly for lay people who run clubs; they
were never "road tested" on the user population. Notices
of applications must be displayed at the applicant premises for
public viewing, the application advertised in the local press,
and premises plans drawn up and submitted to the licensing authority.
Each application must also be copied to several "responsible
authorities". The main derogation for private clubs is that
they are not required to have a "designated premises supervisor"
(DPS) holding a personal licence; and there are now moves afoot
to bring in a "minor variations" procedure provided
the variation concerned does not impact adversely on the licensing
(b) To assist financial viability CORCA
clubs make use of the Temporary Event Notice (TEN) facility eg
for non-member events; they also organise fund raising events
on behalf of charitable and community causes. The Act's quantitive
restrictions eg maximum of 12 TENs per calendar year is in our
view unnecessarily restrictive and some of our clubs therefore
apply for premises licences to run alongside their CPCs. This
involves additional application costs, the full licence application
procedure, the acquisition of a personal licence for a DPS and
a doubling up in statutory fees.
We also question the rationale for restricting
a club to five TENs per individual signatory which means that
a club utilising the full number of TENs in a year has to involve
three different officials as signatories. In the club context
where all events on the premises are within the control of the
committee, it would be logical for a single official eg the club
Secretary to sign all 12 notices. The present requirements are
unnecessarily bureaucratic for clubs although they may be justified
for other premises eg village halls to prevent a single individual
or group monopolising an entire year's entitlement.
(v Anticipated Financial Savings
As stated in (iii) above we do not accept that
the substantial savings projected will accrue to our clubs, quite
the reverse as the impact of the Act on them has been regulatory
rather than deregulatory with significant additional costs.