Letter from the Royal Borough of Kensington
Consultation on Licensing Hours for Restaurants
This represents the Council's response to the consultation
paper and the proposal to amend the Licensing Act 1964 by removing
the requirement for restaurants to obtain supper hour certificates
and the need to provide entertainment for extended hours orders.
The Council is firmly opposed to any proposal that relaxes the
current regime. Any relaxation will have a severe and marked impact
on the quality of life for the Royal Borough's residents.
There are over 1,400 licensed premises within the
Royal Borough, with over 440 having supper hours certificates
and another 120 having extended hours orders or special hours
certificates. At present, local residents experience a great amount
of disturbance from the emergence of customers from premises particularly
after midnight. If the proposals were implemented there is a potential
for at least 500 restaurants in the Royal Borough applying to
serve alcohol until 1.00am.
Noise emanating from inside premises such as restaurants
and bars can cause disturbance. Where the Council has experienced
disturbance of this nature the environmental protection procedures
have been used effectively.
However, the real intrusion to residents' well-being
is the noise that occurs as patrons leave premises with car doors
slamming, taxis arriving and departing together with anti-social
behaviour that unfortunately can accompany late night and early
morning activity involving the consumption of alcohol.
Government Departments still appear to persist in
maintaining such noise and disturbance can be tackled by the application
of environmental protection legislation. This cannot and does
not in practice address problems occurring in Royal Borough streets
shortly before, during and after closing times. With reductions
in ambient noise levels after 11.30pm such disturbance becomes
even more intrusive to sleepers. It is simply not possible in
areas where restaurants, bars and residential premises are concentrated
and mixed together to determine with sufficient reliability to
satisfy the tests applied in the Courts which business is the
In this connection the presumption underlying the
paper, that the abolition of the requirement to provide entertainment
would lessen disturbance for residents, is misconceived.
The Council's experience is that attempts to address
noise problems occurring outside premises is time-consuming and
costly, with little prospect of success. The Council has to be
dependant on residents' evidence and this can impose both irritating
and frightening burdens on them. There would not be many citizens
who would face the prospect of giving evidence in court without
some misgivings and the demands of whole days away from work for
someone in employment may just be too much. The Council and its
residents firmly believe that to ensure quality of life and well-being
there is simply no substitute to reasonable closing times.
That means 11.00pm for public houses, midnight at
the latest for restaurants with only places providing bona fide
entertainment staying open after that.
There are compelling reasons for any relaxation proposal
concerning licensing to be left until after the presentation and
consideration of the White Paper. Ministers undertook to Parliament
that the Deregulation and Contracting Out Act 1994 procedures
would only be used for uncontroversial matters. These proposals
are controversial for large numbers of residents here many of
whom have sent me copies of their representations to you.
The Council would welcome an opportunity to meet
with the Minister or with officials to explain further the deep-rooted
and serious concerns that exist.
Alun Phillips LLB
Director of Legal Services Kensington and Chelsea Borough
27 January 2000