There was a tendency, in the early days of the new system, for committees to stick conditions on the licence even when they had not been discussed or volunteered. On enquiry, they claim that this or that rule was a ‘requirement’ of the environmental health team.
One practitioner told me last week she had yet to see a licence returned after grant that was accurate. My own experience is similar.
Sometimes the problem stems from delay: I am still waiting for a licence granted unopposed by a London authority in August last year.
The paperwork has yet to arrive, even though there are no issues with the licence. It is just that it is too busy to get round to it and there are no sanctions to compel it to be prompt.
I guarantee, however, that if I was one hour late with an application they would turn it down flat. Don’t do as I do, do as I say!
I have advised one reader that he is perfectly entitled to remove surplus conditions by means of the minor variations procedure, but I have also warned him that some licensing officers baulk even at this, in spite of the fact that it is actually recommended in the statutory guidance to the Licensing Act.
I think the problem stems from a natural reluctance by some of the responsible authorities to take a step back. Deregulation is not in their DNA, because they like to take precautions and removing a minor restriction, however trivial, is often seen as being lax about controls.
But there are no clear rules on this, and of course the licensing officer has the final word. If he refuses, you cannot appeal. So it is best to explain carefully why you want the restriction or condition removed, rather than simply banging in a minor variation application and hoping for the best. Preparing the ground may stand you in good stead.
An example is the inherited restriction on children under 14 in the bar, which I often see. There is under the current law no such restriction and it is inappropriate to see it on a licence. No effect on the licensing objectives could be found in its removal. Take another look at your own licence and see what you can find.