Agenda and minutes

Venue: The Norfolk Room, Conference Suite, Elizabeth House, Dereham

Items
No. Item

1.

Minutes pdf icon PDF 62 KB

To confirm the Minutes of the meeting held on 21 November 2007.

Minutes:

The Minutes of the meeting held on 21 November 2007 were confirmed as a correct record and signed by the Chairman.  

2.

Apologies

To receive apologies for absence.

Minutes:

Apologies for absence were received from Mr A Byrne due to work commitments, Mr D Myers due to other commitments and Mr T Lamb due to medical reasons. 

3.

Declaration of Interest

Members are asked at this stage to declare any interests that they may have in any of the following items on the agenda.

The Members’ Code of Conduct introduced on 31 January 2002 requires that declarations include the nature of the interest and whether it is a personal or prejudicial interest.

Minutes:

Councillor J Rogers wished to express an interest regarding Agenda Item 8 due to his membership on the Fire and Community Safety Committee.  

4.

Nightsafe

Presentation by Mr Chris Spinks of Norfolk Constabulary.  

Minutes:

The Chairman introduced Inspector Chris Spinks of Norfolk Constabulary and welcomed him to the Committee. 

 

Inspector Spinks carried out a verbal report which advised Members regarding the work being carried out under the Nightsafe initiative, which had originated due to night time economy issues that had spread as a result of street drinking, Anti Social Behaviour and youth drinking especially under age drinking. 

 

He advised Members that since the new Licensing Act had come into force, which extended the hours that pubs could stay open, the Police had received significant research statistics that showed people had been encouraged to drink in rural areas rather than getting taxi’s to town or city locations for late drinking.  This has put more pressure on the Police to increase their work in rural areas. 

 

The Chairman asked which market towns had been specially affected.  In response, Inspector Spinks advised Members that the statistics he had were received from the Policing Standards Home Office and were part of a national study.  The Chairman asked Mr Spinks whether he had noticed an increase in people’s drinking patterns locally.  Inspector Spinks confirmed that more people were drinking in rural areas rather than going to towns and cities. 

 

A Member sought clarification on the powers that PCSO’s (Police Community Safety Officers) had regarding finding a youth drinking in the street.  Inspector Spinks confirmed that under the Crime and Disorder Act PCSO’s could seize and throw away, alcohol from an under 18 year old drinking in a public place and from an over 18 year old that they believed to be providing alcohol to someone under 18 years of age.  He confirmed that due to it being half term his Team had started targeting areas they believed may be problem areas for underage drinking, for example, the recreation ground in Dereham.  Members were advised that if an under 18 year old was caught in possession of alcohol the Police would follow this up with their parents and depending on where they sourced the alcohol they would also give advice to the premises where it had been purchased.  

 

Inspector Spinks informed Members that combating alcohol related issues and problems was really high on the local and central government agenda and that they were in the process of trying to gain support from local retailers starting with Tesco in restricting the times alcohol could be purchased by under 21’s. The Police have suggested that between the hours of 5.00 p.m. and 10.00 p.m. on Friday and Saturday night major retailers should only sell alcohol to people of the age of 21 years and older. 

 

The Chairman asked for clarification on where youths were obtaining alcohol.  It was confirmed that at least 50% of youths were obtaining alcohol from their home and approximately a third of the remaining youths were obtaining alcohol from people over the age of 18 years.  Inspector Spinks added that only a small number of youths were obtaining alcohol directly from licensed premises.  Members were advised that  ...  view the full minutes text for item 4.

5.

New Licensing Policy

The Principal Environmental Health Officer will issue the new Licensing Policy and Section 182 Guidance together with LACORS advice to Councillors for Members information.  

Minutes:

The Principal Environmental Health Officer distributed the following items to the Committee for Members information and guidance:

 

  • LACoRS – Licensing Act 2003, Councillors Handbook,
  • Breckland Council Licensing Policy – Reviewed January 2008,
  • DCMS (Department for Culture, Media and Sport) – Guidance Issues Under Section 182 of the Licensing Act 2003. 

 

RESOLVED that the Principal Environmental Health Officer ensure that the Members that could not attend the meeting were issued with hardcopies of the documents and that an email be sent to all Members of the Licensing Committee with website links to Breckland Council Licensing Policy and the DCMS guidance documents. 

 

It was noted that Members felt strongly that they would not feel happy carrying out a Hearing, if required in the future, without proper legal support and advice.  The Chairman advised the Committee that he would ensure that if they were required to carry out a Hearing, along with the help of the Principal Environmental Health Officer, he would instruct competent legal representation for advice and support. 

 

A Member raised concern regarding the possibility of the, last minute, failure to attend a Hearing by legal representation.  The Chairman reassured the Committee that no Hearing would take place without legal representation and if necessary a Hearing would be adjourned without this representation. 

 

   

6.

Fire Service Policy on Licensing Inspections pdf icon PDF 80 KB

Fire Service Policy attached for Members to discuss.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Principal Environmental Health Officer drew Members attention to a Norfolk Fire Service internal Bulletin.  He expressed his concern regarding the lack of inspections that the Fire Service had conducted in view of Breckland being responsible for nearly 500 premises licences. 

 

It was noted that years ago the Fire Service used to provide premises with a report detailing the adequacy of the building regarding public safety and that this was greatly missed.  The Chairman suggested that large organisations would have the resources to instruct people to help with a similar type of assessment however, for example, village halls would be unable to fund such assessments and receive what was very helpful and valuable advice. 

 

The Chairman referred to the Circular initially sent out with the Agenda which, although was not meant to be attached to the Agenda, proved very informative.  The Committee were very disappointed to learn that the onus was on the Council’s licensing officers to assess and take responsibility for reviewing premises on health and safety grounds.  Members were advised that guidance from the Fire Service could be found easily on their website. 

 

Members expressed their concerned because of the lack of support from the Fire Service, due to the level of help and support they believed to be required, which may not be supplied by another organisation. 

 

RESOLVED that a letter be sent to Richard Elliot of the Norfolk Fire Authority inviting them to attend the next Licensing Committee on Wednesday, 2 April 2008 in order for the Committee to express their concerns and for them to explain why there have been changes in their responsibilities. 

 

7.

Item Not On The Agenda - Prosecution Update

Minutes:

The Principal Environmental Health Officer updated Members of the prosecution at the Dog and Partridge public house.  He advised that the prosecution had involved a lot of incidents regarding smoking on the premises in addition, regarding an incident where a Licensing Officer, Police Sergeant and Environmental Health Officer were allegedly locked in the pub and the Licensing Officer was assaulted.  He confirmed that this week he had received a letter from the CPS advising the Council they had dropped the charges following witness statements they had received from individuals in the pub. 

 

The Principal Environmental Health Officer advised the Committee that he was unsure of how he was going to deal with the CPS dropping the charges as he was extremely annoyed and concerned with what had happened.  In addition, he wanted his Licensing Team to know that when they were out on visits that there were protected. 

 

There had been 3 witnessed incidents of smoking in the pub as follows:

 

  • The Police Licensing Officer,
  • The Principal Environmental Health Officer (whilst covert),
  • Police/EHO and Licensing

 

Members were advised that there were currently charges for smoking in the public house, with the first hearing taking place on Monday, 18 February 2008. 

 

A Member queried whether Trading Standards had the power to remove a licence.  The Principal Environmental Health Officer said he would investigate this and report back to the Member. 

 

 

8.

Date of Next Meeting

To note that the next meeting will be held on Wednesday, 2 April 2008 at 10.00 a.m. in the Norfolk Room, Elizabeth House, Walpole Loke, Dereham.  

Minutes:

The next meeting would be held on Wednesday, 2 April 2008 at 10.00 a.m. in the Norfolk Room, Elizabeth House, Walpole Loke, Dereham.