On 6 November 2017, the Government responded to the House of Lords select committee’s report on the Licensing Act 2003, which had been published on 4 April 2017. What can we expect in the next year? It is safe to say with Brexit, much of the Home Office’s attention will be centred on our extrication from the EU, and there will be no time for primary legislation changes to the Licensing Act 2003. However, the Government has indicated its intent to make changes to cumulative-impact policies and late-night levies through the Policing and Crime Act 2017, and we can expect to see some changes to the national guidance.
These will be put on a statutory footing this year, and every three years a licensing authority must consider whether there is evidence to continue with a policy, or whether the area subject to any policy should be reduced or made larger.
The process by which these are introduced will be formalised. A levy will be able to apply to part of a licensing authority’s area, rather than the whole of it, although we wait to see how specifically small that area could be. A levy will also apply to premises selling hot food, although the Government is to consult on the amounts that such premises should pay. Licensing authorities will also have to publish information on how money has been spent from the levy.
The Government is likely to look to work with the College of Policing to improve police training on the Licensing Act 2003 and associated legislation, and introduce stronger national guidance on the conduct of hearings.
The national guidance is likely to be amended to recommend that licensing authorities should consider how to bring temporary-event notices to the attention of residents affected by them.
Airports and seaports
The Government is to consult on developing a new ‘UK aviation strategy’, and we can expect to see part of the consultation to be focused on whether the Licensing Act 2003 should be extended to premises situated airside.
With the changes recently introduced, where licensing authorities have power to call a personal licence in for review on the conviction of a relevant offence, we are likely to see more licensing authorities taking action against personal licences.
Immigration Act 2016
There is likely to be greater emphasis placed on reviews being brought against premises that are employing illegal workers. We can also expect a few nasty surprises to befall holders of premises licences, where their entitlement to work in the UK has ended and the premises licence has subsequently lapsed.
So, in all likelihood, a fairly slow year in terms of licensing and nothing more than we were expecting in terms of levies and cumulative-impact policies.