Cheltenham Borough Council
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Agenda item

MAKE-UP OF LICENSING COMMITTEE

Report of the Licensing Team Leader

Minutes:

The Licensing Team Leader explained why the report was before the committee. He advised that the full committee had passed a resolution in 2016 for a revised committee structure, this had taken effect in September 2017 and it was requested at committee in December that the committee structure be reviewed. He confirmed that the committee had the option to keep the current structure or resolve as they see fit.

 

Councillor Parsons explained his reasoning for requesting the review, as below:

 

·           He reasoned that whilst the original structure was not perfect, the present structure was unsatisfactory.

·           He noted that there was the miscellaneous committee of 5 that determine almost all applications and despite the fact there are 5 Members on the alcohol and gambling committee only 3 determine the applications.

·           The fact that the alcohol and gambling meetings were often held in the day time meant that many were excluded from attending and the same demographic of Members determined the majority of applications.

·           He was concerned that Members were not getting the required experience and expertise to determine applications. He also stressed that all of the committees should be politically balanced and that the alcohol and gambling committee should have an assigned Chair, not the current practice whereby the Chair is decided at the meeting. 

·           He accepted that it was not necessary for 10 people to determine a minor application, however, reasoned that there was normally more than one item on the agenda.

·           He questioned whether they needed a full committee of 10 and suggested a compromise between the two structures would be more appropriate.

 

In the debate that followed, Members made the following comments:

 

·           Members reasoned that they would never be able to achieve a structure that was perfect, however, agreed that the committees should be politically balanced where practically possible as they were not always able to get the required Members. The was particularly important given that there was a statutory deadline to hear applications.

·           They suggested that Members should be substituted in and out dependent on when they last served on the committee instead of being picked on a first come first serve basis.

·           Some Members felt it important that all Members be given the experience in Chairing a meeting.

·           Other suggestions included having a full licensing committee once a year and 11 miscellaneous committees and if there was, for example, a policy which needed determining a miscellaneous committee be promoted to a full committee meeting.

·           Members felt that having a full committee to determine an A board was disproportionate and time consuming and also having a full committee of 10 determining all applications could be intimidating to applicants.

·           It was suggested that they have a 6/4 split, with 6 on the miscellaneous committee and 4 on the  alcohol and alcohol and gambling committee. The Licensing Team Leader highlighted that changing to a 6/4 split would only work on the assumption that all 4 Members were definitely available to attend on the agreed date. The Chair also highlighted that a 5/5 split would be more appropriate as an odd number means the Chair does not always have the deciding vote should this situation arise.

 

·           A Member made a suggestion that the Chair and the vice chair speak with each Member of the committee outside of the meeting to understand any practical implications in order to find the best fit for the majority.

·           It was agreed that the Alcohol and Gambling meetings be held in the evening wherever possible and be gender balanced.

·           Members agreed that rotating the Members depending on the time since they last served on the committee would be a satisfactory solution which could be trialled for 12 months, but further consultation was necessary.

 

The Licensing Team Leader confirmed that under the licensing act, the committee are required to establish one or more sub-committees with at least 3 Members on. He also highlighted that there is a requirement for the full committee to have 10 Members on it. He explained that it was often difficult to get the required 3 Members for the ad hoc Alcohol and Gambling committees, even when they are scheduled for the evening. He confirmed that the way the Council works is that the full committee delegate responsibility to the sub-committees to make the decisions. If there is an issue with the decision made then this is dealt with through the courts.

 

The committee proceeded to vote on keeping the current committee structure but rotating Members.

 

Upon a vote it was unanimously passed.

 

RESOLVED THAT

The current committee structure be kept and revisions made following further consultation.

 

Supporting documents: