Police Reform and Social Responsibility Bill

Memorandum submitted by Sunderland City Council’s Community and Safer City Scrutiny Committee (PR 115)

INTRODUCTION

1. This submission is intended for consideration by the Police Reform and Social Responsibility Public Bill Committee

2. Sunderland City Council’s Community and Safer City Scrutiny Committee has an important role within the council ensuring that open and transparent decision making is promoted. One of the key roles of the committee is policy review and development whereby the committee gathers evidence on issues of concern and provides an in depth analysis of policy issues resulting in a number of recommendations to Cabinet. This year the committee are completing a policy review into alcohol, violence and the night time economy. As part of the evidence gathering for the review the committee has considered the council’s own Licensing Policy Statement as well as proposed changes to the Licensing Act as set out in Section 2 of the Police Reform and Social Responsibility Bill. Evidence that has been gathered has highlighted the importance of Licensing Policy and enforcement on maintaining a safe night time economy in the city.

3. The committee have considered the amendments proposed and welcome any changes that provide local authorities and the police with more powers to tackle premises that are causing problems. We welcome the opportunity to respond to the Public Bill Committee and have highlighted comments and concerns below.

POLICE REFORM AND SOCIAL RESPONSIBILTY BILL- PART 2 AMENDMENTS OF THE LICENSING ACT 2003

4. Clause 105-108- Removal of the test of vicinity

The committee welcome the removal of the test of vicinity to allow any persons to make representations. The committee believe that the proposal to introduce statutory guidance regarding vexatious and frivolous applications is extremely important as we anticipate these could increase workload unnecessarily.

5 Clauses 109-111 to require licensing authorities to take steps which are "appropriate" for the promotion of Licensing objectives in place of "necessary."

Lowering the evidential burden is a welcomed amendment; however, the committee are concerned that replacing the term necessary with the term appropriate will not have any noticeable change on the amount of evidence required by Licensing Authorities. The committee believe that further guidance is needed in this respect to ensure that Licensing Authorities are able to use the subsequent Act appropriately.

6 Clause 114: Temporary event notices: late notices

The provision for TENs to be submitted less than 10 days before an event will make it more difficult to convene a licensing sub committee to enable appropriate consideration be given to each application. There are concerns that this provision will leave the system open to abuse.

7 Clause 118: Persistently selling alcohol to Children

Whilst increasing the maximum fine for underage sales from £10,000 to £20,000 is welcomed we are concerned that this will not have any real impact as currently the maximum fine is rarely given. We believe that guidance should be provided to make it clear when the use of the maximum fine is appropriate.

8 Clauses 124 to 138: Late night levy

The proposed levy is welcomed by the committee. We would suggest that the levy is applied based on the capacity of the premises rather than a standard charge for all premises. We believe the levy should be able to be utilised to ensure the safe transportation of people from the premises to home.

February 2011