Memorandum submitted by ACRE
ACRE leads the Rural Community
Action Network (RCAN) comprising 38 Rural Community Councils (RCCs) and 8
regional bodies that together provide comprehensive support to communities and
community groups across rural
Management of community owned
assets is a core business for
There are 8900 village halls and
similar community buildings in rural
Community buildings are exempt from a fee for their Premises Licence. Where the sale of alcohol is included in their Premises Licence they are subject to the same fee bands as all other licensed premises.
1. ACRE is not aware that levels of public nuisance, night time offences and perceptions of public safety have changed in the areas surrounding the rural community buildings that they support. There may be issues in some small rural/market towns but ACRE is not able to comment on these.
2. Community buildings in rural areas, together with public houses, are the main providers of small venues for live music. The second stage of our licensing research (November 2005) showed that 25% of committees believed that ad hoc live music events, touring arts events and filmed horse racing would diminish because of the Act due to the restriction on the number of Temporary Event Notices (TENs) allowed. However, the third stage of our research which represents the period January 06 to December 06 showed that 67% of the 218 halls surveyed had up to 12 live music events during the period of research, 7% had between 13-25 live music events and 4% had more then 25. This would indicate that live music activity continues to thrive in rural communities.
3. Sports and social clubs play a key role in communities along with the community buildings that ACRE represents. Their common purposes contribute to healthy, vibrant and sustainable communities. The sale of alcohol is an incidental activity but nonetheless an important one that supports many fundraising and social activities in the community.
When the Legislative Reform Order to remove the requirement for a Designated Premises Supervisor in community premises is in place community buildings will incur charges, probably in band A. However it remains to be seen which fee bands the community buildings will actually come under and consequently the overall financial burden.
4. The Licensing Act 2003 created a significant change for committees running community buildings with the accompanying paperwork and costs. ACRE was concerned that the complexities of the process would mean that many community buildings decided not to apply under the new Act but to restrict the use of their building, if necessary, to comply with the law. Anecdotal evidence implies that a number of community buildings have had to turn away events that would provide a substantial income for their community building because their TENs had been allocated elsewhere.
During the Act's first year of implementation the burden of administration, and cost involved was significant. This has not continued at the same level but committees still have a number of responsibilities under the Act, which result in additional paperwork:
· Ensuring that all hirers of the premises understand their responsibilities under the Act particularly with regard to the sale of alcohol.
· Ensuring that TENs are monitored -
there is no requirement for the local authority to inform the committee that a
· Ensuring any changes to the premises or activities taking place in the premises are noted and the appropriate variation applied for.
Evidence from one committee suggests that the bureaucracy has decreased because "having sorted out the basic premises licence, the cost of TENs and realising the bureaucracy for a licence to sell alcohol was so great they moved over to asking people for donations instead of selling glasses of wine at functions, their income from donations is now higher than it was when they sold it"