Response to The Argus article on licensing

Follow-up to Peter Crowhurst's letter

By Bill Cowell, Co-Chair of East Brunswick Residents Association

No-one wants to take responsibility

What an accurate picture Peter Crowhurst describes in his letter entitled “The Licensing Panel does not help to protect city residents” (see here). Anyone living in the vicinity of a pub in Brighton & Hove will immediately recognise and agree with Peter’s comments. Yes, it does seem, as Peter claims, that “no one wants to take responsibility for residents in the city centre having their sleep disturbed virtually every weekend”. I would add that this doesn’t just apply to the city centre, but to a great many pubs elsewhere in Brighton & Hove - and not just at weekends. 

What has happened to the Health Impact Assessment Report?

Most residents will probably be unaware that in May 2008 the Council commissioned outside consultants to undertake a health impact assessment of the introduction of flexible alcohol licensing hours in Brighton & Hove. The findings of that report were published in October 2009. It makes very interesting reading and paints an accurate picture of the situation. This report must have cost thousands of pounds. So what notice have the Licensing Panel taken, or what action has followed as a result of this report? Well, I regret to tell you that as far as any one of us can see, the answer is none.

Little compliance with licensing conditions

Yes, the Licensing Act 2003 was a very ill thought-through piece of legislation - as so much legislation is!  It does tie down the ability of the Licensing Panel to protect residents fully. Nevertheless there are things that could be done. What is needed is a full understanding and acceptance of the problems, a willingness to do something about them and some intelligent thinking. The strongest card the Panel holds is the ability to impose conditions. Yes, they do impose conditions, but when imposing those conditions do they ensure that those conditions can be complied with? What demonstrable assurances do they obtain from the licensees that they are able to comply with them? It is clear that most licensees find it impossible to comply with any conditions imposed where customers are allowed to drink outside premises and in particular with regard to the prevention of customers drinking in the street. As a consequence many don’t even try to comply with their conditions. 

No enforcement

Next is enforcement of those conditions:  yes, they will claim they do visit licensed premises, but when? What times? It can’t be after 10pm or we wouldn’t have these problems. Or would we? Make a complaint to the Licensing Department about a licensed premises and what is the result? No action!  No doubt someone from the Council will defend their actions. They usually do. The problem is that no-one is prepared to admit failure or inability to resolve the problems. As a result nothing changes. I could go on, but what’s the point? Who in the Council actually cares? A letter to The Argus doesn’t provide sufficient space to debate these issues fully. Let’s hope the Chief Executive’s reorganisation brings in staff better able and willing to manage these problems. 

PS What a shame that councillors who recently fully endorsed the new Chief Executive’s appointment now see themselves unable to support him.

This page was added on 14/07/2010.

Above comments are absolutely spot on regarding the Licensing Panel - in East Street we have exactly the same issues. While the council passes responsibility from pillar to post, irresponsible premises just carry on running rings round them.

By Caroline Brennan
On 23/08/2010

If you're already a registered user of this site, please login using the form on the left-hand side of this page.