Licensing Laws – one year on

Friday 24th November marked the first anniversary of the Licensing Act. The new laws have allowed the authorities and local residents to force trouble pubs, clubs and off-licences to shape up or risk losing their licence.

An example of the new laws in action in 2006 was Mitcham Mint – a poorly run small public house in the middle of a densely populated residential area. Residents made a number of complaints of noise, rowdy behaviour, disorderly conduct, violence, vandalism and drug dealing. This particular case was exacerbated by the fact that the premises sit opposite a children’s nursery.

Liaison between residents, the Police Licensing Officer, and Merton Council Police resulted in a review of the pubs licence.

The sub-committee decided that revocation of the licence or restriction of the current hours would be disproportionate. They were of the view that the conditions attached would address the concerns raised and promote the licensing objectives.

The following conditions are attached to the licence:

No person under 21 to be allowed on the premises.
Off-sales to be removed from the Licence.
There shall be no use of any external area.
No bottles or glasses to be taken out of the internal area.
CCTV to be installed, maintained and made available to the police.
The Designated Premises Supervisor (DPS) to check the immediate vicinity of the premises regularly and take appropriate action to prevent noise emanating from the premises.
The DPS to check the immediate vicinity of the premises regularly and remove any pub-related mess.
Notice to be erected asking patrons to leave quietly.
The DPS (James Kearney) to be removed from the licence.
The sub-committee recommends that the management should offer to hold at least quarterly meetings with residents and the police to discuss concerns. This recommendation is not a condition of the licence.

Since the introduction of the new powers there have been a number of appeals against and for extended licensing hours, Wimbledon Magistrates Court recently heard two appeal cases against licensing decisions made by Merton’s Licensing Sub-Committee.

Merton Council has a special cumulative impact policy for premises in Wimbledon Village. Councillors sitting on the Licensing Sub-Committee had refused to grant a later licence for the Rose and Crown Public House, 55 High Street. The Sub-Committee had accepted local residents’ evidence that granting a licence until midnight would cause disturbance.

Young & Co’s Brewery PLC appealed this decision at Wimbledon Court on 18 September 20