Select Committee on Delegated Powers and Deregulation Ninth Report

Memorandum from the Federation of Licensed Victuallers Associations

(Utilising numbers as per Consultation Paper)

The Federation welcomes the general principle of de-regulation and, in particular, the changes as proposed to the Law on Sunday Observance and Liquor Licensing. However, we would wish to make the following observations:-

8. Protection for Residents

a) It is understood and appreciated that wherever possible the disturbance of residents caused through noise and nuisance is to be avoided.

However, the Government is proposing that there be:-

    (i)    An amendment to the Sunday Observance Act 1780 to permit paid for Sunday dancing; and

    (ii)  A relaxation in that Special House Certificates may apply on Sundays until 12.30 am.

It would seem, therefore, that to incorporate a further requirement under the Licensing Act 1964 "to consider the special nature of Sunday before reaching a decision on a Special Hours Certificate" to be contradictory to the proposed deregulation legislation.

The Federation is mindful of the poor uptake of Childrens' Certificates following deregulation in that area of the Licensing Act. The intransigence of some Licensing Committees has rendered Applications for Childrens' Certificates untenable. It is envisaged that some Licensing Committees may simply amend their Policy Statement (e.g. "the Committee considers that Sundays are special by their nature and inappropriate for the grant of Special Hours Certificates"), thus rendering this deregulation proposal redundant.

Furthermore, the proposed amendment includes a requirement for the Licensing Authority "to consider the Special nature of Sunday before reaching a decision". The merit of an Application will be meaningless until this preliminary hurdle is overcome. It seems to the Federation that a Committee would find it difficult to reverse a decision that Sundays are special by nature, if such is their finding on the prior Application considered by them. How can Sundays cease to be special for some premises and not for others?

The Government has, therefore, already carefully considered the special nature of Sunday, hence the proposed deregulation.

The Federation considers the additional proposed protection "to consider the special nature of Sunday before reaching a decision on a Special Hours Certificate" as being unnecessary.

b) The Federation is unclear why the latest time for selling alcohol under a Special Hours Certificate on Sundays should generally be restricted to 12.30 am. It is noted, however, that an exception is proposed when Sunday falls the day before a Bank Holiday (other than Easter) in which case normal week day hours will apply.

If the Government is of the view that people should be allowed to spend their leisure time as they wish, then it seems illogical that the terminal hour on Sundays should be any different from other week days. The argument that "the majority of people go to work on Monday" does not hold good when considered against the fact that Special Hours Certificates can apply to each week day.

c) It seems reasonable that there should be a power to exclude Sundays (as well as any other day) from a Special Hours Certificate on the grounds of disturbance caused outside the premises as a result of their use. However, the wording of this proposal would seem to suggest that before a Committee could exclude a Sunday there would need to be evidence of disturbance.

The Federation is mindful that in order to achieve the grant of a Special Hours Certificate the Applicant will need to satisfy the Local Authority Licensing Sub-Committee that a Public Entertainment Licence is in force for the premises for the days and hours sought. Ample protection is, therefore, provided to local residents within the Local Government (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1982.

33. Cost Savings and Financial Benefits

Suggest that FLVA consult with membership regarding the financial benefits which might accrue if paid for dancing were permitted on Sundays.

34. Transitional Costs

(i) Variation of Public Entertainment Licence

The Federation is conscious that there is no uniform pricing structure for Local Authority Variation Applications. Some Authorities do not charge for Variations at time of Renewal, whereas others will charge whenever the Application is made.

(ii) The Special Hours Certificate will either require varying or a new Application. This, again, will involve expense including possible legal fees, court fees and the expense of advertising in local press. Of course, it would be open to local residents to lodge any Notice of Objection to such Application which can significantly add to the cost.

35. Phase In

Those who would seek a new Special Hours Certificate for Sundays will have to apply for a variation to their Public Entertainment Licenses as a preliminary measure. Some Committees insist on a minimum 28 day consultation period for such variations and then, of course, Application for Special Hours Certificates will have to go before Liquor Licensing Committees at their Sessions. It seems sensible to the Federation that the Government should set a date for the coming into force of the new dancing arrangements that allow for immediate Applications for Variation as suggested.

Prepared by Anthony Lyons, Solicitor

Pannone & Partners

Submission on behalf of the Federation of Licensed Victuallers Associations

15 July 1999

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