Cheltenham Borough Council
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Agenda item

Applications for Pavement Licences under the Business and Planning Bill 2020 and Responsibilities for Functions

Report of the Chief Executive

Minutes:

The Deputy Chief Executive explained that the Business and Planning Bill 2020 (“the Bill”) once in force, would introduce a number of changes to potentially promote post-lockdown economic recovery and growth.  Part 1 of the Bill included provisions that would enable the operators of licensed premises, via a new standalone mechanism, to secure for a limited period, a “Pavement Licence”. The new Pavement Licences would allow additional outdoor space to be lawfully licensed and used by premises. Under the provision an application must be determined by a local authority within 7 days of receipt of the application, this reducing the consultation period, as well as the ability of the authority to refuse.  The proposed delegation would allow the Director of Environment, in consultation with the vice-chair of the Licensing Committee, to determine an application for a Pavement Licence under the new legislation.  It was also noted that if necessary the ability to revoke a licence should also be delegated to the Director of Environment. A slight amendment to the recommendation was proposed in that ‘and revoke’ would be added after ‘determine applications’.

 

The Licensing Team Leader, gave the following answers to member questions:

 

·         Under the Bill there is no statutory appeal process, but the draft guidance states that councils may wish to consider the scope for an internal review process.  To this end, an applicant wishing to appeal a decision to refuse consent could apply to the Miscellaneous Licensing Sub-Committee.  The Chair felt that it was more appropriate to preside over any such appeal, rather than being involved in the original decision(s) and it was noted that there were two vice-chairs for the Licensing Committee.

·         A local authority can grant a Pavement Licence subject to conditions that it considers reasonable but in any event such licences will be deemed to be subject to a “no-obstruction condition” and condition would remain and if following a site inspection it was considered that it would cause an obstruction, the matter would be referred to the Director for determination and possible refusal. 

 

 

At this stage the Mayor sought agreement from members that the meeting should continue beyond four hours in duration and the no member objected.  The meeting continued. 

 

The Licensing Team Leader, continued to respond to member questions: 

 

·         There had been no amendments to the Highways Act 1980 and when the Bill was repealed (currently planned for September 2021) applications would be made under the Highways Act 1980.

·         In response to a further question, the Business Support and Licensing Team Leader assured members that they would be consulted on applications as ward councillors as they had previously, though admittedly with less time to respond, 5 working days from 28 days.  He noted that if the authority does not determine an application within the determination period, the licence would be deemed to have been granted for a year.

 

The Leader paid tribute to the Licensing and Planning Teams at CBC, as the concept for this Bill had been spearheaded in Cheltenham.  He also acknowledged that some of the temporary measures put in place did not look necessarily look as good as they could, but as an authority we had got out and done them to enable businesses to reopen as quickly as possible. 

 

A member felt that the authority should have an Accessibility Champion who could represent and advocate on behalf of people with visual impairments and wheelchair users, etc, in terms of decisions such as these.  The Cabinet Member Finance interjected and confirmed that in her previous role, as Cabinet Member Healthy Lifestyles, she had established a Disability Forum and applications were taken to this group for feedback.  In her experience, having consulted the Forum during the Changing Places discussions, it was clear that it would never be possible to meet the needs of every single individual and as an authority we could simply do our very best.

 

Upon a vote it was RESOLVED

 

1.    That the Director of Environment, in consultation with the vice-chair of the Licensing Committee, be given delegated authority to determine applications and revoke Pavement Licences under the Business and Planning Act 2020.

 

2.    That the Borough Solicitor be authorised to make any textual or other amendments which are necessary to ensure the accuracy, consistency and legality of the Constitution when incorporating the revisions referred to in 1. above.

 

Supporting documents: