Question 3 Responses
51. The third question was:
Do you have any additional concerns regarding the Licensing (Procedure) (Scotland) Regulations 2007? If yes, please provide details below.
52. The respondents were firstly asked to answer “Yes” or “No” to question 3.
Eighteen of whom replied “Yes” and twenty eight said “No”. Four of the respondents to the consultation did not respond to this question.
53. Twenty two of those who responded provided further details, which included concerns being expressed regarding the complexity of the regulations and legislation and the formal nature of the licensing processes and procedures, which some thought makes it difficult for members of the public to know how to raise their concerns, and others described as being adversarial in nature. Concerns were also raised regarding the way licensing boards operate, with some respondents making reference to them being intimidating.
Some respondents suggested that the regulations must be open and answerable and that the process and regulations should be more accessible and simplified . For example, one respondent stated “If updating the regulations to increase community participation in the licensing process, then the process of submitting an objection and attending a Licensing Board meeting should also be simplified”.
specific comments from individuals and organisations included –
- Scottish Health Action on Alcohol Problems (SHAAP) stated “The Procedure Regulations can be amended to improve community engagement, but this should not in any way negate or diminish the need to improve the licensing system overall, to ensure that the rights of communities are better promoted and respected”.
- The complex, long drawn out procedure to apply for a licence has been disadvantageous for local fund-raising events, community gatherings and enterprises.
- For many people attending a Licensing board meeting to speak to their objection can be a daunting prospect
- Charities - considering that the regulations should not apply to them in any way.
- There should be clearer license definition and specific conditions to that license type.
- Anonymity should be a part of the process of making an objection or the licensing board are not receiving a true picture of what is going on in communities.
- There doesn’t seem to be communication between other local authority departments that could have a useful right of consultative response to a license and the comments raised by an affected resident objecting to the application. Such as noise and crowd control for a public events license that is primarily concerned with misuse and mis-selling of alcohol.
- The Scottish Consultants and Specialists in Public Health Alcohol Special Interest Group stated “The timing of the licensing board can be difficult if it operates during the day and the person submitting an objection is unable to attend due to employment issues”.
- Site Visits: Regulations relating to site visits in the determination of license applications should be included to ensure all local boards follow a set procedure
- The regulations should specify a robust procedure for ensuring planning and building regulations have been met before the granting of any licence, including occasional licences. Increased penalties for not submitting this information, or indeed submitting misleading information, should be imposed.
- There is no provision in the regulations for how vexatious representations should be dealt with by local boards. This requires to be addressed to ensure all local bodies deal with vexatious representations in the same manner.
- having a dedicated member of the licensing board as an advocate for members of the public who have provided representations (whether they be objectors or supporters) would be beneficial in improving the fairness of the licensing process. Such a role would also be a means to filter out any vexatious or unsubstantiated claims.
- licensing decisions are often made with an unreasonable burden on local residents to 'complain if there is a problem' and a burden on local authorities and Police Scotland to then investigate and deal with arising concerns
- Alcohol Focus Scotland stated “Removing barriers to public participation will therefore require consideration of all elements impacting on 'access' to the system. These include:
- - Accessibility: what informational, practical and structural barriers exist to prevent communities from engaging with the licensing system?
- - Acceptability: do the means by which hearing operate preclude public participation in practice?
- - Accommodation: are the accommodation and other facilities suitable to meet the needs of all users?”
They also suggested that consideration should be given to how the regulations could be amended to address some of these concerns, stating “While the recommendations we have outlined in question 2 may lead some improvements, other measures would also be required. For example, we believe the regulations should be amended to detail means by which licensing boards' processes and procedures should provide for increased accessibility, transparency and accountability for communities, for example by requiring:
- a set of published standing orders;
- board papers and minutes being published on time;
- board minutes recording the names of board members voting for/against a decision; and
- details to be made available of what people can expect when attending meetings and the supports available to them.
- A community council suggested that an additional provision is required, whereby each member of the Licensing Board is required in turn to justify his/her decision, at the hearing, in reference to each of the five Licensing Objectives. This requirement will help each Licensing Board member focus on the Licensing Objectives. They also suggested that the following requirement should be introduced: " There will be an audio-recording of the proceedings of each Board Meeting which will be held in records by the Clerk to the Board for a period of 2 years, or longer if the minutes of the meeting are challenged, until such time as the challenge is resolved." stating “This will help secure the Licensing Board's compliance with its requirements in terms of meeting the Licensing Objectives, by allowing full scrutiny of decisions made, and may avoid costly legal proceedings associated with contesting a decision”.
- One community Council believe that the appeal procedure for local groups should be revamped so that the procedure is less costly and they can have access to legal representation
- Another Community Council stated that “Notification is poor. The public should be able to sign up for alerts for any application in their area. Objections should be possible on line. A procedure for noise complaints should be set out in the legislation at national level”
- The Scottish Community Safety Network said “ We welcome a plain English guidance document for communities and citizens on how the process works, their rights within the process and what they can expect from the process. In particular an easy to understand flow diagram (or similar) showing each step and timescale within the process would be welcome”
Email: Alex Kelly
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