Agenda item

Committee of the Licensing Authority Update (Agenda item 7)

To receive an update from Josie Hoven, Licensing Team Leader.


The Chairman read aloud a letter from the Institute of Licensing (the Night-time Industries Association), the NTIA that had been sent to all Chairman of the Licensing Committees. The letter highlighted the unprecedented disruption and hardship the pandemic had caused to many businesses including the hospitality industry since March 2020.   It also highlighted the key problems that the hospitality businesses now faced that included the lack of resources and the lack of staff particularly in respect of security staff that made it difficult to comply with licensing conditions.


The NTIA was urging licensing authorities to take all the above issues into account on a case by case basis when considering applications/renewals for the foreseeable future.


Councillor Morton felt that all authorities needed to take a pragmatic approach when coming out of lockdown but in his opinion, it was important that standards were still maintained, and he felt that it would be difficult to conclude if some premises were not adhering to licensing laws. He felt that it was a mixed message and should be kept under review.


The Chairman pointed out the Licensing Team was very efficient, and Officers were visiting premises where any concerns had been raised by the public or members.  On a revisory basis they would support the premises and it would be at the Officers discretion as to what steps should be taken next by the Council for any breaches of licensing objectives.


The Licensing Team Leader agreed with the aforementioned comments and to put Members minds at rest she had attended a recent meeting with Norfolk Police and other licensing authorities and the Police had advised that the four main companies in the county for SIA (Security Industry Authority) door staff were experiencing a great deal of recruiting problems. There was a large shortage of door staff not just in Norfolk but nationwide.  Many who had been earning a good living had moved on and had to take up other work during the pandemic and were not coming back into the industry. At that meeting the Police had stated that they would take a very pragmatic approach to these issues and work with licence holders and were asking them to mitigate any issues and revisit their risk assessments and making any judgement calls through that.


There were four primary night-time venues in Breckland, two of those were in Dereham, one in Attleborough and the other in Thetford.  The current practices in place for each one was explained.  The Police were aware of these nightclubs and additional resources would be put in place once they re-opened.  The Licensing Team would be working alongside the Police in assisting such businesses, but public safety was paramount and always would be.


The Chairman pointed out that it was not just a shortage of door staff but others too such as chefs, waiting staff and bar staff all of whom had been affected by the pandemic and had since moved on to other forms of employment.


Councillor Morton felt that some may have left due to Brexit and was not all due to the pandemic.