Making representations/objections to licensing applications
How do I know what’s happening?
When applying for a new licence, applicants have to place a pale blue notice on their premises with details of the application where it can be easily seen from the outside for 28 consecutive days. They must also advertise their application in a local newspaper or similar publication.
Licence holders can also apply to vary their existing licence and in doing must advertise any applications in the same way.
There are two types of variation
A ‘minor variation’ can be applied for when a licence holder wishes to make a small variation to their licence which should not impact adversely upon the licensing objectives. However, the application has to be advertised in case others think that the changes could have an impact on the licensing objectives.
These applications can be used when a licence holder wishes to make small changes to the layout of a premises, to add, remove or change the conditions of their existing licence, or to add, remove or change their existing licensable activities.
Minor variations cannot be used to increase the size of a licensed area, to add alcohol to an existing licence, or to extend the alcohol hours of a licence.
When applying for a minor variation, applicants have to place a white notice on their premises with details of the application where it can be easily seen from the outside for 10 consecutive working days. They do not have to advertise this application in a local newspaper or similar publication.
Any other change to a licence must be made by applying for a ‘major variation’. When applying for a ‘full variation’, applicants have to place a pale blue notice on their premises with details of the application where it can be easily seen from the outside for 28 consecutive days. They must also advertise their application in a local newspaper or similar publication. These are the same requirements as when applying for a new licence.
The Council also publishes regular details of recent licensing applications on its website under the following link:
Why would I want to comment?
You may wish to make representations about new premises, or where there are plans to change existing premises. If you have received notice of the application because you are neighbouring premises, then you may request or download a form to make a representation by the specified date.
You may feel that the plans will lead to an increase in crime and disorder, or late-night noise, or any other form of nuisance, or affect public safety or cause harm to children at the premises.
Who can comment?
Any person can comment on applications, whether in support of or in opposition of an application, regardless of their proximity to the premises or whether they have received notification of the application or not. Organisations such as residents’ associations, schools, chambers of commerce or parent-teacher associations can also comment.
‘Responsible authorities’ can comment on applications. These are statutory authorities and consist of the Police, Fire Service, Trading Standards, Environmental Health, Planning Authority, Local Safeguarding Children Board and the Primary Care Trust. The licensing authority itself is also a responsible authority.
You can ask someone – such as a friend, your Ward Councillor or a lawyer – to represent you if you wish, but you do not have to do so.
When do I comment?
You have a very short time in which to comment. For new licence applications and full variations, your comments must be received by the licensing authority no later than 28 days after the authority receives the application. For minor variations, the time period is shorter, and your comments must be received no later than 10 working days after the authority receives the application.
The licensing authority has no discretion to accept comments outside of these times, and these periods are set in the Licensing Act.
There are some applications and licences under the Licensing Act where you are not able to comment. These include:
- Applications for a personal licence
- Applications to change the Designated Premises Supervisor of a premises
- Applications to transfer a licence from one person or company to another
- Temporary Event Notices
If you have concerns about any of these applications, or the use of these licences, please contact the licensing team.
How do I make my comments/objection (Representation)?
Representations must be in writing and must include your name and address. It may be easier for you to use the Representation Form which may either be requested from the Licensing team or found in the link below.
Your representation can be sent by post or given in to the Council Offices marked for the attention of the Licensing Team or you can send it as an attachment by email to the following address Licensing.email@example.com using the form provided by the Council on the download below or just as an email. It doesn’t matter which delivery method you choose just as long as the points mentioned below are addressed and your full name and postal address are included on the representation.
Representations must relate to one or more of the four licensing objectives of crime prevention, public safety, public nuisance and child protection.
- The prevention of crime and disorder. This relates to any crime, disorder or anti-social behaviour at the premises or related to the management of the premises. A licence holder/applicant cannot generally be held responsible for the conduct of individuals once they leave the premises;
- Public safety. This relates to the safety of the public on the premises, i.e. fire safety, electrical circuitry, lighting, building safety or capacity, and first aid.
- Prevention of public nuisance. This can relate to issues such as hours of operation, noise emanating from the premises, vibrations, lighting and litter.
- Protection of children from harm. This relates to protecting children from the activities carried out on the premises whilst they are there. The law already provides special protections for children under 18 to buy alcohol.
If an objection is being made on behalf of a group (e.g. a parish council or residents' association), then proof of the group's decision to make the objection must be sent to the us along with the objection letter. This could be a document such as minutes of a meeting.
If a petition is submitted the organiser must:
- Provide their own contact details.
- State clearly the application that is being opposed and the reason for opposition on each page of the petition.
- Ensure all names and addresses are written in full and dated, clearly legible and preferably written in black ink.
Please note that we cannot accept a representation that is frivolous, vexatious or repetitious.
Frivolous or vexatious will bear their ordinary meaning. Frivolous means silly or trivial; vexatious means done to cause annoyance or distress. The licensing authority must form a view as to whether a reasonable person would consider the comments and objections to be frivolous or vexatious. A representation will be considered repetitious if it is identical or substantially similar to one already considered by the local authority in an earlier application.
Your comments cannot be considered if they relate to anything else, such as planning permission, the need for the premises, trade competition, or the effect on house prices.
You will be notified if your representation has been accepted or rejected on the grounds of relevance to the licensing objectives.
You may be able to resubmit your comments if there is time, but there is no right of appeal if your representation is rejected. If you need advice before making a representation please contact the Licensing Team on 01923 776611
What happens to my representation?
Where valid representations are received about a minor variation, it falls to the Licensing Officer to determine if the application could impact on any of the four licensing objectives. Any relevant comments which are received will be considered when making this determination.
The application will be granted unless it is considered that the application will have a negative impact on the licensing objectives, in which case the application must be refused.
The applicant and any person who made representations against the application will be notified of the decision.
There is no right of appeal against this decision.
If an application is refused, the premises are able to apply through the major variation process. If this happens, the application is to be treated as a fresh application, with a 28 day consultation period. Previous representations cannot be taken into account and must be submitted again to be considered.
New Licences and Major Variations
Where valid representations/objections are received about a new licence or a major variation, the licensing team must arrange a hearing in front of a Licensing Sub-Committee to determine the application.
In the interests of fairness, your name and address will be disclosed to the applicant and will be included or summarised in the report to the Licensing Sub-Committee.
You must specifically tell us if you do not wish your name and address to appear in the report to the Licensing Sub-Committee, which is a public document. We have to formally agree in writing that your name and address are to be withheld, and this can only be for exceptional reasons.
You will be sent a form about the Licensing Sub-Committee hearing. This must be returned no later than five working days before the hearing if you want to speak at the meeting or if you want to give more information to the committee. You will also be told about the procedure the Sub-Committee will use at the hearing.
At the Hearing the Sub-Committee may ask you to clarify some information you have already given.
All parties will have the opportunity of putting their case to the Sub-Committee. They can also ask each other questions and discuss possible Conditions that might be feasible and placed on the Licence.
Only those persons who have made valid representations, which have been accepted as relevant by the Licensing Authority, and who have notified the Licensing Authority of their intention to attend, will be able to speak at any licensing sub-committee hearing. If you wish to be represented, you must notify the licensing team of who will be representing you and this could be, for instance, your Ward Councillor. Any representative can only voice the concerns of the person(s) they are representing, and cannot add their own. If you wish to be represented, you must give this notification in writing more than 5 days before the hearing.
What can the Sub-Committee decide?
The Sub-Committee may decide to grant an application in full as applied for; grant the licence subject to certain Conditions or with reduced hours; or grant the licence excluding certain activities, in order to address the comments which were received and the licensing objectives; or refuse the application outright.
You will normally be told of the decision straight-away after the Hearing .There is a right of appeal against the Sub-Committee’s decision to the Magistrates’ Court.
Please note that it is not acceptable to lobby a Councillor who is a member of the Licensing Committee at any time in the application process.
You will be advised in writing of the Sub-Committee’s decision. As a party to the hearing, you will have 21 days in which to appeal to the Magistrates’ Court if you disagree with the Licensing Committee’s decision.
The applicant also has the right to appeal against the Committee’s decision. In that case the Licensing Authority may require you to attend the Magistrates’ Court to give evidence on its behalf.
There is no right of appeal against a decision for a minor variation.
For more information, contact the Council’s licensing team on (01923) 776611, or by e-mail to: Licensing.firstname.lastname@example.org