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Licensing Act 2003

The Licensing Act 2003 modernised licensing law in England and Wales by removing restrictions and bringing together four existing licensing regimes.

The Act also transferred responsibility for the licensing of liquor from the magistrates court to local councils. This means:

  • licensing can be more responsive to the needs of local communities.
  • licensees no longer need separate licences for liquor and for public entertainment.

In addition, the Act allows more flexible drinking hours with the possibility of hours being extended. It is hoped this will help to prevent excessive drinking, violence and disorder at closing times.

The role of the Council in granting licences is reactive. The Council cannot refuse to accept an application. A licence can only be refused or hours amended by the Licensing Committee. An application will only be put before the committee if relevant representations are made. Similarly only the Licensing Committee can impose conditions which do not form part of the applicant's Operating Schedule and again this will only happen if relevant representations are made.

Applicants are required to serve notice of their application to the responsible authorities. These bodies include the police, fire service, the Council’s environmental health, children's services, planning, health and safety, and trading standards departments and most recently the PCT.

Applicants are also required to publish details of their application by placing a notice in the public notices section of a local newspaper, (which is available in the area) and placing a blue  notice (similar to a planning notice) outside the premises.

Representations can be made by the responsible authorities, members of the public and local businesses or their representatives (interested parties). If representations are received, the Council will hold a hearing at which the application and operating schedule will be considered (see above).

Matters set out by the applicant on the operating schedule will form conditions on the licence.

A responsible authority or Interested party can apply to the Council for a review of the licence. Please contact the licensing team for further information.