Deregulation (Sunday Dancing and Licensing)
Order: Supplementary Memorandum|
1. This supplementary memorandum is provided
at the request of the House of Lords Delegated Powers and Deregulation
Committee. It sets out all the reservations and suggested amendments
by local authority respondents to the Government's
consultation paper. Many of them were addressed in the Explanatory
Document that was laid in January with the draft Order. Where
this is the case, a cross-reference is given to the relevant part
of that document.
2. Twenty authorities were concerned that the
Government's proposals would lead to increased noise and nuisance
to local residents (Barrow, Westminster, Daventry, Gateshead,
Camden, Croydon, Redbridge, Medway, Mid Beds, Newcastle, North
Warwickshire, Shepway, South Gloucestershire, South Lakeland,
Suffolk Coastal, Surrey Heath, Tandridge, Neath, Hart and Watford).
Response: This point is addressed in paragraph
35 of the Explanatory Document. The Government believes that
necessary protection against noise and nuisance would be provided
through the existing and proposed new safeguards.
3. Four authorities thought that the proposed
12.30am closing time was too late. They would prefer 11.30pm
or 12 midnight (Westminster, Shepway, West Wiltshire and Tandridge).
Response: The Government believes that a 12.30
end time represents an appropriate balance between what would
be commercially worthwhile for business and attractive to consumers,
and what would offer necessary protection for local residents
(paragraph 36 of the Explanatory Document). To achieve that balance,
the Government deliberately recommended a less relaxed regime
for Sundays. The latest time of closing normally permitted under
a special hours certificate on other days is 2 a.m. in most of
the country, and 3 a.m. in certain parts of London.
4. Three authorities (Barrow, Neath and Suffolk
Coastal) were concerned that the Government's proposals would
cause extra demands on police resources.
Response: The Government believes that the additional
protections contained in the draft Order should keep to a minimum
any nuisance or disorder for the police to handle (paragraph 28).
5. Four authorities suggested phasing-in the
proposed changes over a three month period (South Gloucestershire,
Newcastle Under Lyme, Sedgemoor and Tendring).
Response: A three month phased implementation
is included in the draft Order (paragraph 42).
6. Six authorities felt there would be additional
costs to local authorities in dealing with applications to vary
entertainment licences and in responding to increased noise complaints
(Southwark, Medway, South Gloucestershire, Gateshead, Suffolk
Coastal and Sedgemoor).
Response: BEDA estimates that many premises already
hold entertainment licences which permit Sunday dancing, so the
number of applications for variation might be less than anticipated
by the local authorities. Where applications are necessary, this
would only be for the first year and local authorities would be
able to recover their costs through the application fee (paragraph
With regard to increased noise complaints, the
Government believes that the additional safeguards proposed should
help keep noise problems to a minimum.
7. Four authorities (Westminster, Sutton, Hart
and Watford) were in favour of local authorities (or any person)
being allowed to apply for a restriction preventing a special
hours certificate from operating on a Sunday:
Response: Only allowing the police to apply for
such a restriction in respect of the special hours certificate
would be consistent with the existing arrangements for other days.
Revocation action could still be prompted by residents and other
individuals (paragraph 37), and the local authority can address
problems arising in the context of the public entertainment.
In all cases involving dancing at on-licensed
premises conditions, limitations and restrictions relating to
the justices' on-licence, the public entertainment licence issued
by the local authority, and the special hours certificate will
be in force. In the case of the public entertainment licence,
which is most likely to give rise to a condition on acceptable
noise levels, the offence of breaching the condition would be
punishable by a fine of up to £5,000 (and in London, up to
3 months in prison). The prosecuting authority in respect of
breaches of public entertainment licence conditions is the local
authority. Local residents are free to bring such breaches to
the attention of the local authority, which can use information
from any source to form a basis of a prosecution. Conviction following
prosecution can lead to revocation of the public entertainment
licence and consequentially the special hours certificate. In
view of the criminal nature of breaches of conditions and restrictions,
the Government's view is that the police (in respect of the special
hours certificate) and the local authority (in respect of the
public entertainment licence) are best placed to consider the
evidence involved, to investigate further if necessary, and to
decide appropriate action.
8. Newcastle City Council wanted further clarification
of the "special nature of Sunday".
Response: Guidance on this point is given in
paragraph 39 of the Explanatory Document.
9. London Borough of Redbridge felt that the
measures for protecting residents needed to be "linked with
strong policy statements in conjunction with the licensing of
music and dancing".
Response: The Government would certainly encourage
licensing justices' to develop their policies in consultation
with local authorities responsible for the related music and dancing
licences. However, the Executive cannot bind the judiciary who
are ultimately charged in law with considering applications on
their individual merits.
10. North Warwickshire Borough Council wanted
protection for staff who do not want to work on Sundays.
Response: The Government is satisfied that existing
legislation and the BEDA code of practice will provide sufficient
protection for workers (paragraph 38).
11. North Wales Association of Town Councils
wanted a provision included that enabled the automatic revocation
of a licence when problems at certain premises arise.
Response: The Government believes that the existing
and proposed safeguards would be adequate to
allow the police, licensing justices and local authorities
control any problem premises. It does not believe that automatic
revocation would be necessary. In addition, given that the livelihoods
of those owning and working at the premises are at stake, it is
proper that they should hear the charges brought against them
and have an opportunity to respond at a hearing before any final
decision is made to revoke a licence or a certificate.
12. Bedford Borough Council did not support the
proposals because there is no power for them to vary public entertainment
licences once they have been granted, other than at the request
of the licensee.
Response: Variation of the public entertainment
licence is not a relevant consideration. Any necessary variation
or limitation of the special hours certificate would meet any
concerns arising from the operation of the draft Order. Such limitations
could be sought by the police under the terms of the draft Order.
Furthermore any person may object to any variation
of a special hours certificate, and this would include a local
resident or a representative of the local authority.
13. Staffordshire Moorlands District Council
were opposed on the grounds that Sunday should be kept as a 'special
Response: The Government recognises that some
people still consider Sunday a special day, and is therefore proposing
a less relaxed licensing regime for Sundays than exists for other
days (paragraph 33 and the response at paragraph 3 above).
14. Warwick District Council asked that consideration
be given to transferring liquor licensing from magistrates' to
local authorities. Bexley Council wanted all licensing applications
handled by one licensing authority.
Response: The Government will be addressing this
issue in its forthcoming White Paper on licensing reform.
15. West Wiltshire District Council asked for
an explanation of the term 'ancillary' in the context of providing
substantial refreshment in order to qualify for a special hours
certificate. They suggested that a definition might specify the
number of tables and seats, the scope of the menu and the percentage
Response: The Government is not proposing to
use the draft Order to specify such issues. The requirement that
the sale of alcohol under a special hours certificate must be
ancillary to the provision of music and dancing and substantial
refreshment relates equally to all days of the week and is not
specific to Sundays. Extensive case law and precedent on this
long-standing part of the licensing laws explains the legal interpretation
of the term, and currently guides and is binding on the licensing
justices. Much depends on the particular circumstances in each
individual case, and the Government does not consider it necessary
for the draft Order to be specific on these matters.
16. West Wiltshire District Council also asked
for clarification of what is meant by 'the power to exclude Sundays
on the grounds of disturbance'. They suggested that this might
specify noise from music, customers shouting, the use of cars
and horns and the number of complaints.
Response: The Government is not proposing to
use the draft Order to specify such issues. What constitutes
a disturbance will vary from case to case and will depend on local
circumstances, not least in respect of the density of the residential
population in the vicinity.
13 March 2000