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Legal Q&A: furniture highway and age challenge policy

By Poppleston Allen

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Policy checks: furniture licences and age verification policies need to be up to scratch
Policy checks: furniture licences and age verification policies need to be up to scratch

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The latest legal Q&A from specialist licensing solicitors Poppleston Allen covers outdoor furniture licences and age verification policies.

Q: I have placed a picnic bench outside the front of my pub for a number of years. The council has said I need a licence to do this. It has added that I need to take the picnic bench away until I have a licence. Can you let me know what I need to do?

A: If you wish to place items of furniture on land you do not own, you will need to obtain permission from the landowner. If that land is publicly owned (and in some circumstances even where the land is privately owned) that permission will come from the council.

Individual local authorities are broadly free to set their own procedure but they normally require some, if not all of the following: planning permission (this may also be required even if the land is privately owned), indemnity insurance, and plans showing the type and layout of the furniture. Consent is normally provided for a temporary period of six months although this may sometimes be for longer. A fee is normally payable and the permission will be subject to periodic renewal. There will be conditions attached to the permission that normally stipulate how the area needs to be managed.

It is an offence to place items of furniture on the highway without permission and the council is within its rights to ask you to remove the picnic bench until you have correct permission. If you continue to place the picnic bench on the highway without permission, it is likely the council will instigate enforcement proceedings and this could include confiscating the furniture or issuing a fine.

Q: I have a Challenge 21 policy condition. Recently one of my staff members was presented with a student card as ID. This had the person’s date of birth on it but I am a little bit confused about what identification is OK to accept.

A: Where a premises licence permits the sale of alcohol, the premises licence holder must adopt an age verification policy. You need to ensure that all sales of alcohol are carried out in accordance with that policy and anyone who appears under the age of 21 in your premises must produce identification before being served alcohol. The mandatory condition requires identification to be photographic, have a date of birth and include either a holographic mark or an ultraviolet feature. These latter features are not always present on student cards.

There may be further conditions on the premises licence that specify which types of identification can be required, however, these are normally passport, driving licence, military card and a PASS card. Some operators go further where they feel they are at a high risk of underage persons attempting to gain entry and/or purchase alcohol at their premises and this would be a matter for your policy.

It is best practice for the policy to be in writing, so that it can easily be trained to all staff and you can be confident that they are carrying out the appropriate age verification checks.

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

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