Enter cumulative impact assessments (CIAs) – a strategic mechanism for local councils to assess the combined effects of licensed premises on local communities. By understanding the cumulative effects of licensed premises on noise nuisance, anti-social behaviour, crime rates and public safety, councils attempt to tailor licensing policies and introduce CIAs in an attempt to promote harmony between businesses and the neighbourhoods they inhabit.
The implications of CIAs for hospitality businesses are profound. CIAs establish grounds for licensing authorities to have a policy-based presumption to refuse new premises licence applications and extensions of hours, unless an applicant can establish exceptional circumstances.
Since CIAs were put on a statutory footing in 2018, councils must reassess their CIAs at least every three years. In doing so they must consult interested parties, including the licensed trade. These consultations therefore offer hospitality businesses a golden opportunity to contribute to shaping the policies that will govern their operations.
When it comes to CIAs, the insights and experiences of operators can play a pivotal role in ensuring that regulatory decisions are both fair and effective. Hospitality professionals are the true experts on the intricacies of their trade. No one understands the nuanced balance between commercial profitability and community engagement better than those who pour their passion into creating the social experiences and community hubs that make up the UK’s hospitality sector.
As such, it is crucial that operators engage in consultations on local licensing policies, and in particular CIAs. Some tips for navigating council consultations are:
- Stay informed: Keep an eye on local news and council announcements for updates on consultations. This ensures you have ample time to prepare your thoughts and responses.
- Gather data: Arm yourself with data that supports your arguments. Whether it's customer feedback, noise level measurements, incident logs, emergency service call-outs, or examples of community engagement; concrete evidence will lend significant weight to your perspective.
- Collaborate: Reach out to fellow hospitality businesses in your area. Collaborative efforts can highlight shared concerns and yield more comprehensive insights for councils to consider. One of the greatest aspects of the hospitality industry is its sense of camaraderie. Harnessing this collective energy and channelling it into council consultations can amplify the industry's influence.
- Emphasize positive contributions: Showcase the ways in which your business enriches the local community. Highlight employment opportunities, partnerships with local suppliers and events that bring people together.
- Be constructive: While it's important to voice concerns, also propose solutions. Councils are more likely to take heed of well-thought-out suggestions that balance both business and community interests.
CIAs are much bemoaned in the industry and are often viewed as a blunt instrument where nuanced solutions are needed. But they are not going anywhere and operators would do well to remember that their voice matters when these policies come to be assessed. By participating in council consultations and sharing your insights and data, you can contribute to shaping the regulation of the industry.