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Agenda item

Observations on its use in practice


The Convener asked the Board if they had any comments on how the Policy operated in practice.  Councillor Boulton advised that she found it frustrating when applications which seemed on the surface to be straightforward approvals or refusals then became complicated.  She advised that the Board would always go to the Policy as their starting point for any decisions.  Further training was to be given to members of the Licensing Board in September / October.


Councillor Boulton referred to the objections made to applications by the Police and the NHS, and suggested that the Board would find it particularly helpful if the submissions contained more area-specific information – for example, the number of incidents in that area, or the number of admissions to Accident and Emergency which were alcohol related.  The Convener added that although the submissions could include more local information, evidence showed that people would often travel several miles to purchase alcohol, for example, at a supermarket, so this would also need to be taken into consideration.  Shamini Omnes advised that the NHS was starting to work with local communities to discuss where alcohol purchases were being made.  Councillor Carle agreed that the Board needed to receive localised data which would back up the Policy and link to the Licensing Objectives.


Ruary Campbell suggested that the data should already have been used to determine where there was over-provision.  Councillor Boulton explained that the current classification of areas of over-provision had occurred following the experiences of the previous Licensing Board.  If, for example, only the city centre was classed as an area of over-provision, the problem would simply be displaced elsewhere.  Mr Anderson advised that the Policy was not set in stone, and there could be exceptions and occasions to look at specific evidence.  The additional data being requested could then be used in cases where exceptional circumstances were being cited.


Inspector Hume highlighted perceived anomalies in the Board’s decisions, stating that two premises in the same street had applied for a licence and one had been granted, while the other had not due to over-provision.  He added that the statement of reasons was unclear as to why this had occurred.  He advised that the Police had the capacity to break down the number of crimes in a particular area which were alcohol related, however there was a risk that perhaps only one or two premises were affecting the statistics in that area, rather than off-sales.  He also asked how ‘locality’ would be defined – for example, if the locality was defined as the city centre, it would be very unlikely for anyone to be granted a licence based on statistics.  Where there were incidents, the alcohol might not have been sourced in that area, and Inspector Hume highlighted the issue of ‘pre-loading’, where people would drink at home prior to going out for the evening.  He added that the Licensing Board would require to give clear direction on the information they required for a particular area.  Councillor Boulton suggested that a session could be arranged to discuss the type of information the Board would find useful.


It was also agreed that the input of Community Councils was key to obtaining more information about the impact of decisions on local areas.  If possible, input should also come from local GP practices.


The Convener referred to section 1.4 of the Statement of Licensing Policy and suggested that the wording “….The pursuit of these five objectives is a principal feature of the Board’s policy.  The objectives provide a basis for refusal of an application for the grant of a premises licence or of an occasional licence….” could be amended as follows:-

“The pursuit of these five objectives is a principal feature of the Board’s policy.  The objectives provide a basis for assessment for determination of an application for the grant of a premises licence or of an occasional licence…”


Councillor Boulton agreed and stated that she could discuss this with Mr Anderson outwith the meeting.


Councillor Townson referred to alcohol displays in supermarkets, and added that in other cities, the displays were closed off to the public.  He asked if the Police had undertaken any discussions with supermarkets around their displays.  Inspector Hume advised that the Police would have input to supermarket designs from a security perspective, but the manner in which alcohol was displayed on a premises seemed to be more an issue for the Licensing Board when they consider the licence application.  He added that if there was a specific problem at particular premises, the Police would work with that premises.  Councillor Boulton stated that she would like people to have to pay for alcohol separately at supermarkets, but this would need to be implemented through a change in legislation, and was not something that the Board could instruct.  Mr Anderson added that this had been one of the matters under consideration by the Government, but had not been carried forward into the Bill.  The Convener advised that the Alcohol and Drugs Partnership would support this approach, as alcohol should not be seen as an ordinary grocery item, and paying for it separately might change the public’s perception of this.


The Joint Meeting resolved:-

(i)           to note the request that the Police and the NHS provide more area-specific information for the Licensing Board, and to note that a session could be arranged to enable the Board to provide guidance to partners on the type of information it would find useful;  and

(ii)          to note the suggestion in relation to the wording of 1.4 of the Statement of Licensing Policy (as set out above) and to note that Councillor Boulton and the Clerk to the Licensing Board would discuss this outwith the meeting.