Agenda and draft minutes

Licensing Committee
Wednesday 28th November, 2018 10.00 am

Venue: Room 3.1, 3rd Floor, 5 Strand, London, WC2 5HR. View directions

Contact: Kisi Smith-Charlemagne, Senior Committee and Governance Officer  Email:  kscharlemagne@westminster.gov.uk Tel: 020 7641 2783

Items
No. Item

1.

MEMBERSHIP

To report any changes to the membership

Minutes:

1.1       There were no changes to the membership of the Licensing Committee.

 

2.

DECLARATION OF INTEREST

To receive declarations by Members and Officers of any personal or prejudicial interest in matters on this agenda.

Minutes:

2.1          Councillor Angela Harvey declared that she was married to Cllr David Harvey, Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member for Economic Development, Education and Community.  Councillor Jacqui Wilkinson declared she was the Animal Welfare Champion.  Councillor Wilkinson also added that Westminster City Council (WCC) had received an award for its Animal Licensing work and thanked the team for their good work.

 

3.

MINUTES pdf icon PDF 187 KB

To sign the minutes of the previous meeting held on Wednesday 04 July 2018

Minutes:

3.1       RESOLVED: That the minutes of the Licensing Committee meeting held on Wednesday 4 July 2018 be signed by the Chair as a correct record of proceedings.

 

4.

MARKETS STRATEGY PUBLIC CONSULTATION RESULTS AND NEXT STEPS pdf icon PDF 1 MB

Presentation by Greg Ward, Director of Economic Development, Catherine Brice, Head of Westminster Markets and Jen Compton, Research Manager.

Minutes:

4.1      The Licensing Committee was given a presentation on Markets Strategy Public Consultation, by Jen Compton, Market Research Manager.  The public consultation on the Street Markets Strategy ran from Monday 6th August until Monday 29th October 2018.  The consultation programme covered online, print and face-to face surveys, as well as drop-ins to encourage a wide range of responses from different groups, and a broad range had been received from different audiences.  Ms Compton advised that the consultation gave a basis of information for the Council to consider for the next stage of the Street Markets Strategy.  She said the Council had received over 800 responses capturing issues which needed to be considered in relation to the Street Markets Strategy. 

 

4.2       The survey consisted of mainly closed questions within several themes which included;

·      Support with starting a market stall

·      increasing income,

·      how customers use our markets,

·      involvement with local markets,

·      goods for sale,

·      operational and regulatory issues (Traders survey only),

·      and ensuring our markets reduce their impact on the environment. 

Also, that respondents could also offer open comments on the themes at the drop-in sessions.

 

4.3       Ms Compton advised that there were 838 responses to the consultation survey, 339 via the online and paper survey, 499 on-street survey, 60 attendees at the drop-in sessions and 73 licensed traders responded to the survey, along with 35 market workers and casual traders.  She said that of the non-trader responses, 210 had commented on Tachbrook Street, 173 on Church Street, 140 on Strutton Ground, 127 on Berwick Street, 108 on Maida Hill and 95 on Rupert Street.  Ms Compton advised the Licensing Committee that the largest proportion of responses had come from residents (335), followed by workers (264), regular visitors to the area (126), business owners/representatives (22), five organisation /stakeholder groups and 25 other respondents.

 

4.4       Ms Compton informed the Licensing Committee that traders were asked several questions about the markets, some of which were also asked of non-traders. She explained that all fees and charges data had been excluded from those findings and could be found in the Licensing Committee Markets Fee Post Consultation Report.  She said that there was strong support for the sustainability of the markets and that it was important to traders; with 84% wanting to see reduced plastic and packaging, and 82% more recycling facilities.  Ms Compton advised the Licensing Committee that 77% of the respondents would like to see more seating in the markets, the local community have more input into the markets and the markets playing a bigger role in the community (74%).  She explained that there was also support for more opportunities for young people in Westminster to trade at markets (69%) and preference being given to first time traders and residents of Westminster (66%).

 

4.5       Ms Compton advised the Licensing Committee that post-consultation, the next phase would look for the approval of the changes to fees and charges and to deliver a Markets Strategy.  She said that the strategy would be published in March  ...  view the full minutes text for item 4.

5.

PROPOSALS FOR A NEW STREET TRADING FEE AND CHARGES STRUCTURE FOLLOWING PUBLIC CONSULTATION. pdf icon PDF 475 KB

Report of the Director of Public Protection and Licensing.

 

Minutes:

5.1      The Licensing Committee received a report from Ms Annette Acik, Head of Licensing, setting out the results of the consultation into the fees and charges for street trading on a market, allowing the WCC to set a fee to recover its costs in relation to a licence application and services provided for administration, cleansing, waste disposal and enforcement.  Ms Acik advised that Officers sought a decision to implement a revised set of fees for the application for a licence for street trading on a market pitch in Westminster, and the charges applied for each day that the licence is in force, following the consultation, approved by the Licensing Committee on 4th July 2018. 

 

5.2      Ms Acik said that the consultation ran as part of a wider consultation into markets across Westminster, from 6th August 2018 until 29th October.  She explained that as part of the consultation, there were proposals for a new application fee, which set out four options for the daily charge.  Ms Acik advised that the proposals also included some concessions on the application fee for charitable or community events, for start-up businesses and for Westminster residents.  She advised that licence holders affected by the proposal and representative trade bodies were notified of the changes proposed and given the opportunity to make representations.

 

5.3      Ms Acik advised many traders had responded to the consultation, summarised within the report, with a clear preference for Option 4 for a tapered rate over a two-year period.  She explained that support was also given for the proposed revised application fees and associated concessions.  Several general comments were also received from traders, across all markets.  Ms Acik said that the traders were also been given the opportunity to meet officers in person and/or attend the Licensing Committee hearing to discuss the fee and charges proposed, and a chance to make further representation.

 

5.4      Ms Acik discussed with the Licensing Committee the financial implications and advised that fees and charges are based on cost recovery, as defined within section 22 of The Act.  She explained that under the current fee and charging arrangements, the Council’s deficit over the last three years was more than £1million.  Ms Acik advised that with current occupancy rates, the tapered Option 4 would result in a deficit of £234,585 in year one, (2019/20). If the option was approved, the deficit would be funded through the Council’s general fund and represents a £80k reduction in deficit compared to the previous year.  Ms Acik felt that the deficit would be borne by the Council to ease pressure on traders as the Council moves into full cost recovery.

 

5.5      Ms Acik asked the Licensing Committee for their consideration and approval for:

1.     The proposed application fees as set out in Appendix A

2.     The concessions on the application fee in relation to charitable or community stalls, start-up business and Westminster residents as shown in Appendix A

3.     Option 4 of the proposed daily charge for a pitch on a market in  ...  view the full minutes text for item 5.

6.

STREET ENTERTAINMENT ENGAGEMENT AND CONSULTATION pdf icon PDF 241 KB

Report of the Director of Public Protection and Licensing.

 

Minutes:

6.1       The Licensing Committee received a report on Street Entertainment Engagement and Consultation from Ms Sara Sutton, Director of Public Protection and Licensing.  She advised that the Council valued the dynamic artistry, cultural contribution and diversity that street entertainment brings to our city. As with the use of all public space, there is the expectation that everyone will act reasonably and considerately in sharing space with residents, business, visitors and other performers.  However, key challenges included unsuccessful resolutions in court with CPNs and the amount of resources required, due to the size and scale and the transient nature of the street entertainment. 

 

6.2      Ms Sutton informed the Licensing Committee that an extensive number of expert witnesses from the business, street entertainment and music industry were invited to City Management and Public Protection, Policy and Scrutiny Committee to discuss their views and opinions.  The members of the Licensing Committee welcomed and noted the report. The Chair raised concerns on behalf of Councillor Acton regarding noise nuisance in residential areas and if portrait artists were included within the context of the work. 

 

6.3       Councillor Scarborough welcomed the report; she advised that the neighbourhood to the north of Oxford Street was mainly residential, although some of the streets behind Oxford Street had problems with rough sleepers and night clubbers.  Councillor Scarborough queried plans for consulting ward councillors, and also queried the plans for informing residents, once the policy had been agreed.

 

6.4       Councillor Caplan advised that performers varied in quality, and others who gave bad value. He thought current tools for regulations were not successful, but did not feel that full licensing was the answer, although in, certain areas it may work.  Councillor Wilkinson raised queries regarding animal welfare, including buskers with dogs and discussed self-regulation as opposed to full licensing.

 

6.5       Councillor Freeman agreed with Councillor Wilkinson and felt that there were competing musicians, as well as appalling loud music which needed to be managed.  Councillor Less advised that she was able to empathise with both buskers and businesses and felt that the Council needed to protect against noise, crowds, and the pavements from becoming dangerous.  However, she felt that busking gives singers and musicians a platform.  Councillor Glen advised that there had been a massive drop in complaints.  He wished to know how the Council would enforce.  Councillor Glen agreed that over-licensing was not a good idea and that self-regulation was better.

 

 

6.6       RESOLVED: That the report be noted and of the overall direction of the policy.

 

7.

ANIMAL WELFARE (LICENSING OF ANIMALS) REGULATONS 2018 - UPDATE ON NEW LICENSING REGIME pdf icon PDF 321 KB

Report of the Director of Public Protection and Licensing.

Minutes:

7.1       As the Council’s Animal Welfare Champion, Councillor Wilkinson welcomed the next item, a report on Animal Welfare (Licensing of Animals).  Mr Steve Rowe, Licensing Manager, presented the report and advised that on 1 October 2018, the Animal Welfare (Licensing of Activities Involving Animals) Regulations 2018 had come into force. He explained that the regulations replaced some of the existing legislation in relation to animal licensing regimes, which would be repealed at the end of 2018. Mr Rowe advised that the regulations would provide a single licensing regime for several animal related activities. 

 

7.2       Mr Rowe advised that the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) had provided all local authorities with application forms and guidance documents relating to these new Regulations, to assist with their successful implementation over coming months.  The Committee was informed that the Licensing Service was currently implementing new processes to ensure officers are adequately trained.  Mr Rowe explained that the service was introducing an enforcement process in partnership with Animal Welfare Officers from the City of London Veterinary Service, the Animal Warden and the City Inspectors.  Members welcomed and noted the report and thanked officers and Members for their hard work.  Members raised enquiries regarding unlicensed pet boarding and the new star ratings.

 

7.3       Councillor Wilkinson thanked the Licensing Service, advising the Licensing Committee that the Licensing Service was leading the way for this type of licence.  She very much welcomed the clarification of the regulations as they are much simpler.  The Chair was concerned that new operators may be disadvantaged by the star rating system, as there was no category for new operators.  Mr Rowe advised that the Star rating related to risk and was only available to view internally and added that the Licensing Service would not be publicising the risk rating. Ms Acik advised that communication regarding the licensing of animals was clear, however there would be more internal communication regarding new operators and how the star rating worked.

 

7.4       RESOLVED: That the report be noted

 

8.

CITIZENS ADVICE BUREAU LICENSING ADVICE SERVICE - UPDATE ON PROMOTION

Verbal Update, Director of Public Protection and Licensing.

 

Minutes:

8.1       The Committee received a verbal report from Mr Rowe and given a brief update on the annual performance of the Citizens Advice Bureau (CAB) Licensing Project, heard at the last committee meeting.  Members were informed that several actions had taken place to improve the promotion of the CAB offer, this included: updated letter templates, recurring mention in the weekly Licencing News and a full page on the Council’s website.  

 

8.2       The Chair welcomed the update and thanked Officers for implementing the actions with speed

 

8.3       RESOLVED: That the update be noted

 

9.

INCLUSION IN THE EVENING AND NIGHT TIME ECONOMY, SCRUTINY TASK GROUP PROGRAMME UPDATE pdf icon PDF 98 KB

Report of the Director of Policy, Performance & Communications

 

Additional documents:

Minutes:

9.1       The Licencing Committee received a report on the Inclusion in the Evening and Night Time Economy Policy & Scrutiny Task Group, presented by Aaron Harding, Policy and Strategy Manager.  He informed the Committee that at its meeting on 20th September the City Management & Public Protection Policy & Scrutiny Committee, it had been agreed to establish a task group to investigate inclusion in the evening and night time economy.  Mr Harding advised the task group would be chaired by Councillor Iain Bott and the report presented the terms of reference of the task group to the Licensing Committee. 

 

9.2       The Chair welcomed the report and advised that evidence had come through that there is a high level of support for the task group.  She felt that the task group should cover all inclusion, such as LBTGQ+ issues, and a wider scope could be considered.  Councillor Caplan felt that the Licensing Committee should be careful never to discuss specific cases as a general principle, as they may attend the Licensing Sub-Committee in the future.  The Chair commented on the Council’s duty under the Equality Act, and how the Council could make it easier for people who believed they had suffered discrimination to approach the Council and other relevant authorities. Mr Harding confirmed that Protected Characteristics are key to the Council; and that Westminster was the first council to examine this aspect for the Evening & Night Time Economy.  He advised that the task force would be reporting back in April 2019. 

 

9.3       RESOLVED:  That the contents of the report and the terms of reference of the Inclusion in the Evening and Night Time Economy Task Group be noted.

 

10.

NOTTING HILL CARNIVAL UPDATE pdf icon PDF 167 KB

Report of the Director of Public Protection and Licensing.

 

Minutes:

10.1     The Committee received an update from Ms Sara Sutton, Director of Public Protection and Licensing on the licensing approach to the 2018 Notting Hill Carnival.  She updated the Committee on the Council’s wide and deep involvement with the Carnival planning meetings which included all of the key stakeholders who were involved in delivering a successful and safe event.  Learning from the event included the need for more public toilets.  Members queried the number of TEN applications for the event this year and noted the update.  Ms Sutton also advised on the plans underway for the 2019 Carnival.

 

10.2     The members thanked Officers and Members for their hard work.

 

10.3     RESOLVED: That the report be noted

 

11.

LICENSING APPEALS pdf icon PDF 163 KB

Report of the Director of Law.

 

Minutes:

11.1     Heidi Titcombe, Principal Solicitor, Shared Legal Services, provided an update on licensing appeals since the July 2018 meeting of the Licensing Committee.  She confirmed that Shared Legal Services had been handling seven appeals and the Hemmings case on the Council’s behalf during this time.  Ms Titcombe confirmed that Belgrave Square Gardens had withdrawn its appeal and the Council had recovered its costs.

 

11.2     The Committee noted the most recent information on appeals which had been submitted in relation to decisions taken by the Licensing Sub-Committees.

 

11.3     RESOLVED:  That the contents of the report be noted

 

12.

GAMBLING POLICY ENGAGEMENT AND CONSULTATION UPDATE pdf icon PDF 232 KB

Report of the Director of Policy, Performance & Communications

Minutes:

12.1    Kirsty Munro, Policy Officer addressed the Licensing Committee and delivered an updated report on the Council’s new Statement of Gambling Principles under the Gambling Act 2005.  Ms Munro advised that the report set out the end of the first phase of the approach adopted and the re-adoption of the previous version of the Council’s Statement of Licensing Principles for Gambling, in order to meet the statutory deadline for reviewing and publishing its policy document before 30th January 2019. Ms Munro advised that this meant that officers could move on to the second stage of delivering the City for All commitment, to generate a better policy that sets a higher standard and protects the most vulnerable.  She advised that the consultation would start early in 2019 and an update would be brought back to the next Licensing Committee meeting.

 

12.2    The Licensing Committee noted the contents of the report and the direction of travel for the next phases.  The Chair asked the Committee members how many had sat on gambling licensing applications. It was noted that the number was minimal.  The Chair advised that it was sensible to ensure that Licensing Committee members received CPD at the relevant times to ensure that they are refreshed and are briefed and well supported for meeting on this subject area.  The Chair requested that the experience of colleagues be captured to understand why the Licensing Committee makes such decisions.  Ms Acik agreed to action the Chair’s request.

 

12.3    RESOLVED:  That the contents of the report be noted.

 

13.

ANY OTHER BUSINESS WHICH THE CHAIR CONSIDERS URGENT

Minutes:

13.1     Members discussed the timeliness of Licensing Sub-Committee decision reports.  Ms Acik advised the Licensing Committee that due to staff turnover and sickness, there had been a backlog and members should see an improvement.  She advised that the relevant services were meeting to tackle the back log and were working on alternative ways to produce licensing decisions with more speed.

 

14.

FUTURE LICENSING COMMITTEE MEETING DATES

Next Meeting Wednesday 20 March 2019

 

Minutes:

14.1     It was noted that the next meetings of the Licensing Committee would be held on Wednesday 20 March 2019, 3 July 2019 and 27 November 2019.  All meetings are scheduled for 10.00am.