Letter from the British Entertainment
and Discotheque Association|
I am writing further to the meeting of the Deregulation
and Delegated Powers Committee earlier this week during which
both civil servants from the Home Office and representatives of
the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea gave evidence.
We welcomed the opportunity to hear the questions
your Committee had prepared and the insightful debate that subsequently
developed. There were a number of issues raised both by Committee
members and witnesses that merit further reflection and I would
again reiterate our offer to give oral evidence to the Committee.
I also understand that Business in Sport and Leisure has offered
to give oral evidence.
The Different Nature of Sundays
A significant part of the evidence given by the Royal
Borough was relevant to issues that were wider than the specific
issue under consideration by the Committee, i.e. relaxation of
the law that restricts charging for public dancing on a Sunday.
Although these questions were entirely valid in the context of
wider licensing reform, it is worth reflecting on the ways in
which these proposals maintain differences between Sunday and
other days of the week. These all contribute to a more rigorous
set of safeguards compared with more general licensing requirements.
- Venues would be able to apply to open on a Sunday.
Venues would not have an automatic right to open.
- It is proposed that venues opening under these
proposals would be permitted to open only until 12:30am rather
than 2am (or 3am in central London) and discretion could be imposed
locally to impose an earlier time where appropriate.
- The Order contains powers for local police that
would be specific to Sundays.
- Experience from Scotland where Sunday opening
is permitted suggests that Sunday attracts an older, more restrained
clientele. Most of the younger (and noisier) 18 - 25 year old
age group remains committed to Saturday night events.
Widespread Local Authority Support
While BEDA recognises the rights of authorities such
as the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea to object to these
proposals, we would point out that of the sixty-seven local authorities
that responded to the Home Office consultation exercise, fifty-eight
were in favour of the proposal. In addition, organisations such
as the English Tourism Board (now the English Tourism Council),
fifty-six local authority members of the British Resorts Association,
the Local Government Association and the Association of Chief
Police Officers are all on record as supporting these proposals.
Local Authority Opt-Outs
While indidivual authorities may find the proposition
of being allowed to opt out of any deregulation of Sunday dancing
attractive, we would caution against the adoption of such a policy.
This approach would be akin to zoning, which our experience suggests
has a number of drawbacks. In particular, this would result in
local residents living near the borders of authorities being effectively
subject to the effects of the licensing policies of more than
one local authority without adequate democratic recourse. Furthermore,
I understand that during the passage of the previous Deregulation
Order that proposed to allow Sunday dancing, a similar proposal
was ruled illegal by Home Office lawyers.
Incorporation into the Licensing White
Nightclubs have been waiting for many years now for
the opportunity to meet consumer demand for the prospect of imminent
reform was delayed indefinitely while the expected White Paper
on licensing Sunday trading. We feel it would be detrimental to
the development of our industry in reform is finalised and published
and any legislative proposals taken forward.
In conclusion, BEDA would reiterate our support of
the proposals and urge your Committee to recommend their adoption.
10 March 2000