The Cabinet Member for Licensing and Regulation, Councillor Truman introduced the report.
Under the provisions of the Licencing Act 2003 a local authority was required to publish its Licensing Act 2003 Policy every five years.
The revised policy before Council today went out to public consultation from 21September to 30 October 2020, this included a consultation with all Responsible Authorities including Gwent Police.
The Policy was then presented to the Licensing Committee on 15 December 2020, where upon it was agreed by the committee to recommend that Full Council adopted the draft policy, but with some very minor amendments.
The minor amendments expanded on the importance for applicants to meet the public nuisance objectives; specifically regarding litter caused by Licenced Premises, and also to enhance engagement by applicants with local residents and communities when making an application.
The Licensing Committee considered the significant impact of Covid 19 on the licensed trade. The committee requested that the policy changes were monitored and that officers report to them after three to six months of the new policy being activated. This request was endorsed by the Cabinet Member.
In relation to the policy itself; it remained largely unchanged as served the council and the trade well over the years.
The main change however, was the removal of the Cumulative Impact Policy which affected Newport City Centre.
Previously, where a Licensing Authority implemented a Cumulative Impact Policy (CIP), there was a presumption that applications for new premises licences in that area would be refused.
The Policing and Crime Act 2018, then amended the Licensing Act, and changed the rules.
It stated that authorities should only have such restrictions following a Cumulative Impact Assessment. Currently, there was no evidence that the city centre had too many licensed premises and that such an assessment was required. Actually the reverse was true, and the council welcomed applications from responsible businesses. This would help the regeneration of the area and encourage a mix of visitors to the evening and night time economy and improve the variety of premises in the city.
The promotion and strict but sensible enforcement of the licensing objectives in Newport, and particularly the city centre, would seek to reduce disorder and nuisance. The city centre would be monitored closely as ever.
The Council’s licensing authority were now seeking to adopt a special policy known as the ‘City Centre Stress Area’. This allowed the authority to make decisions about appropriate opening hours and licensing conditions based on the local needs of the area.
This led the Council’s licensing authority to propose a maximum “core hour policy” for the city centre, therefore, for new applications for pubs and bars, there would be a condition that all licensing activity must end no later than 2.30 am.
For new applications for nightclubs, there would be a condition that alcohol sales must end at 3.30 am and all licensed entertainment would end at 4.00 am. Further, patrons of the clubs would not be permitted entry or re-entry after 2.00 am.
It was felt that these changes would strike the right balance between;
· Encouraging businesses and improving the variety of the night-time offer; and
· The protection of customers and visitors and responsible management of premises.
Councillor Hughes seconded the report.
Comments from councillors:
Councillor Fouweather thanked the Cabinet Member for his presentation of a sensible report. Anything that helped bring back a vibrant night time economy was welcomed and there were also sensible proposals around closing time as well as sensible proposals for people re-entering premises after a certain time. This would hopefully reduce violence and crime within the city and resemble a thriving night time economy as it was in the 1980s when people had a good time and enjoyed themselves safely.
Councillor Al-Nuaimi welcomed the report on behalf of residents within the Stow Hill ward and it was hoped that a time when there was a vitality within Newport’s night time economy, going forward and recovering from the pandemic. Councillor Al-Nuaimi considered that the proposed new times would have a positive impact on businesses and residents.
Councillor Routley also welcomed the sensible approach that was very well thought through rather than a knee jerk reaction, which would see a move to a more controlled night time economy. He echoed the previous councillors comments adding that it gave officers and applicants a clear understanding of the new licensing rules and therefore supported the very changes in legislation as set out in the report.
Councillor Forsey was pleased to note that some of the suggestions put forward by herself at the Licensing Committee review was incorporated within the report and the additional points referred to problems occurring on licensed premises such as litter and the impact on the community and measures would be taken to address this issue. Licensing was the responsibility of the local authority and therefore it was appropriate that different licensing times could be awarded, and not have to be the same across the UK.
That Council noted comments from Licensing Committee and approved the Revised Statement of Licensing Policy.