Legal Q&A: pavement café licenses and door staff numbers

By Poppleston Allen

- Last updated on GMT

Table manners: rules vary from council to council
Table manners: rules vary from council to council
Specialist licensing solicitors Poppleston Allen's latest legal Q&A looks at the rules governing door staff numbers and pavement-side tables and chairs.

My way or the highway?

Q: I am a designated premises supervisor at a small pub in London and I want to put tables and chairs to the front of the premises. The council has confirmed the area of highway I would like to use is owned by them and that I need to get planning permission as well as a pavement café licence. I ran a pub in the Midlands and didn’t need planning permission for tables and chairs at that site, so is this correct?

A. The rules and requirements for tables and chairs on the pavement vary from council to council, and they are free to set their own policies and procedures for permitting tables and chairs. Some councils require that you obtain both planning permission as well as a licence for the tables and chairs. Councils can also have different requirements in respect of the information they need as part of the licence application.

They may also have very specific conditions that will attach to any licence for tables and chairs. It is advisable that you speak to the relevant department at the council to understand the process. Some councils deal with tables and chairs applications through the licensing department and others through a highways team.

Door staff numbers

Q: I have a temporary event notice (TEN) in place for a student event for a Thursday evening, an event that a lot of premises are taking part in across the city. The police objected until I agreed that I would have two door supervisors on duty during the additional hours as well as abiding by my usual premises licence conditions. On checking my premises licence, I realise that the condition on my licence states that I only need one door supervisor on duty on a Thursday and I am too late to withdraw and resubmit a new TEN application. Can I just have one door staff member on duty for my event?

A. A TEN can only legally ‘attach’ the existing premises licence conditions, if objections are made. That said, agreements on TENs, such as the one you have offered in respect of an additional member of door staff, are very important promises, despite not having the same legal effect as a premises licence condition. It would appear from your query that when you liaised with the police , they were happy for the event to proceed on the basis you would have two door staff present for the additional hours.

I note you mention this is a city-wide event and as such it may be that this requirement by the police is a reflection of how they expect all premises operating later hours under TENs to trade on this day.

While the agreement may not be legally binding, if you did not use two door staff, it could be damaging to your future relationship with the police. It is also worth bearing in mind the police do have other enforcement powers on the night and, more generally, including closure notices and a review of the premises licence if there was an incident and they felt the premises had insufficient security. They could, of course, also simply object to any future TENs that you apply for on the basis that they would not be confident that any agreement in place would be adhered to.

As you are out of time to resubmit a TEN you may want to speak to the police to see if you can reach an agreement to simply abide by your premises licence conditions and have the one member of door staff. Otherwise, a promise is a promise.

For any legal enquiries please visit Poppleston Allen's website​.

Related topics: Licensing law

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