What could be as simples as a temporary event notice?

By Jonathan Smith

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Environmental health officer Officer Metropolitan police

Smith: "Having allowed the licensed trade some slack with the opportunity to apply for a late TEN, the Home Office has sought to shut the stable door after the horse has bolted"
Smith: "Having allowed the licensed trade some slack with the opportunity to apply for a late TEN, the Home Office has sought to shut the stable door after the horse has bolted"
It struck me last week — while I was shaving a mere two-thirds off the cost of my home insurance through a well-known website, whose cute PR chaps sit up on their hind legs and look around — just how ‘simples’ such matters can be. I’m not sure what Aleksandr and Sergei would think of the recent changes made to the system for applying for temporary event notices, with the Government’s well-publicised intent to reduce the red tape of bureaucracy tied around the leisure industry.

We now have bureaucracy laid on top of bureaucracy when it comes to making such applications. This is set against a backdrop of a rumoured blanket ban by the police in Newcastle-upon-Tyne on all temporary event notices; indeed, a similar suggestion has also been levelled at the Metropolitan Police, regarding temporary event notices to do with the Olympics.

A recently published report (State of the UK Leisure Industry: a Driver for Growth​ commissioned by Business in Sport & Leisure, based on research by Oliver Wyman) has recommended that the Government adapt licensing regulations to reduce business red tape.

Yet we now find ourselves in a situation when issuing a temporary event notice that we have to serve not only the police but also the environmental health officer. Application forms also include details of the premises licence, if the area where the temporary event notice is going to apply to is covered by a licence. We have had environmental health officers objecting to temporary event notices, requesting curtailed hours and also that our client notifies local residents within a specified area of the event. This cannot be made a condition, but woe betide our client if he doesn’t do so when he next issues a temporary event notice.

While there is the welcome addition of ‘late’ temporary event notices, there has been much confusion among the legal fraternity as to whether, if a personal licence holder has applied for 10 late temporary event notices, this precludes them from applying for any more ‘standard’ temporary event notices, even where they may not yet have applied for a single ‘standard’ temporary event notice.

The same thing goes for any person who doesn’t hold a personal licence when they have applied for two late notices. The Prescribed Form of Counter Notice (Permitted Limits) form, which the licensing authority completes, lists quite separately where a personal licence holder has given at least 10 late temporary event notices or a non-personal licence holder at least two late temporary event notices, meaning the limits are mutually exclusive.

Exceptional circumstances
Having then submitted your application to both the police and environmental health officer, there is the opportunity created by that creature of statute, the national guidance, for the licensing authority to return a late temporary event notice because the application has not been made in “exceptional circumstances”.

We have already encountered this scenario on several occasions. Having allowed the licensed trade some slack with the opportunity to apply for a late temporary event notice, the Home Office has then sought to shut the stable door after the horse has bolted in the national guidance (published at the very last minute), which stipulates that ‘late’ temporary event notices should only be made in “exceptional circumstances”.

It gives an example at paragraph 17.18: “Late temporary event notices are intended to be used by premises users who are required for reasons outside their control to, for example, change the venue at short notice. They should not be used save in exceptional circumstances“.

When we have encountered such resistance on the basis that there are not any “exceptional circumstances”, we have simply asked the licensing authority to refer us to the piece of legislation allowing it to reject the issue of the temporary event notice on the basis that it was not made in “exceptional circumstances”.

There is no legislative power for the licensing authority to do this and so it has no choice but to accept the issue of the notice. Of course, this does not preclude the local police force or environmental health officer from simply making a representation on the basis of crime and disorder or public nuisance. The underlying reason for this representation could in fact be on the basis that the notice has not been made in “exceptional circumstances”, but, bearing in mind that there can be no hearing on this, the basis of such representations can never be challenged.

So, with a ‘late’ issue of a temporary event notice a representation from the local police or environmental health officer equals a complete veto. Remember, no challenge, no hearing. Simples? Just ask Aleksandr and Sergei!

Related topics Licensing law

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