Examination of Witnesses (Questions 197-199)
COUNCILLOR CAROLINE SEYMOUR, COUNCILLOR ROBERT PARKER, COUNCILLOR TONY PHILLIPS OBE, COUNCILLOR JONATHAN PETHEN AND MR JOHN TIFFNEY MBE
TUESDAY 25 JUNE 2002
Chairman: Ladies and gentlemen, thank you very much for coming. I let that run on a bit because we had just a little bit of time at our disposal, but I promise you we will be somewhat brisker now.
197. I know a bit about local governments so I do appreciate the problems that you have and I do not agree with the evidence that we have had that some people do not think local authorities are the right people to do the licensing. I think they are and I do think there has be a democratic legitimacy given to it and there is that local contact. What worries us are the resources that you have to carry out that work. At the moment you are fairly strapped for cash. Have you asked for additional resources or, as part of the whole process, to increase your charges?
(Mrs Seymour) We have certainly highlighted to the Government the fact that we would need adequate licensing fees to cover the costs of issuing any licences. Also, I think, it would be very important that there was some money up front for the possibility that we would need to employ staff up front to be able to cope adequately with the new demands put upon local government. Having said that, we do do a great deal of licensing at the present time and I think one of the things with this is that with the expected changes to the liquor licensing we are also expecting quite an increased role in that. I think we would see that adding this element to the licensing would be a sort of one stop shop for a lot of businesses who might be thinking about having gambling on their premises. It should fit very nicely, but yes, we do recognise that we may well need some extra resources and we have already highlighted that to the Government.
198. It is not just the actual legalities of the licensing, but it is the premises and every department practically of the council would be involved with those applications. What you are saying is a one stop shop which would really be not only dealing with the applications, but become a kind of expert place for people to come for advice.
(Mrs Seymour) Absolutely, yes. A lot of councils already do that. For example you might go to the Fire Service already for advice about fire regulations and that would all tie in. People would be able to get one set of advice for all the licensing of the premises they would need at one time. We see that as a distinct benefit for the businesses as well as for the council.
199. One of the proposals is the casino provision. Would you be able to deal with that? Do you think you would have the expertise necessary? If casinos came in, would you be able to deal with that?
(Mrs Seymour) We already deal with very large premises, for example sports grounds and so on, so we have a lot of expertise within councils looking at large premises and dealing with large numbers of people. I do not think there is a problem. I think it is a question of thinking what we already do and realising that we already do it very adequately in those cases.