The Team Manager – Licensing submitted a report, which related to the Council’s role as a licensing authority, as the regulatory body for pubs, clubs, off-licences and late night takeaways.
The purpose of the report was to seek approval to publish the Statement of Licensing Policy for the next five year period and to approve a special Cumulative Impact Assessment and Policy as part of that process.
The Team Manager – Licensing explained that the Council must undertake its functions to promote the licensing objectives of:
• Prevention of crime and disorder;
• Prevention of public nuisance;
• Public safety;
• The protection of children from harm
She confirmed that the Council became the Licensing Authority in 2005 and it was now time for the five year review of the Statement of Licensing Policy. This is a formal process and the statutory process was outlined at paragraph 3.2 of the report. The Consultation with regards to this she explained, took the form of an online consultation between 17 June 2019 and 9 September 2019. The statutory consultees included the Police, Fire Authority, Shared Regulatory Services, the local Health Board, other Council departments and the Home Office.
It also included all Elected Members, Town and Community Councils, the Town Centre Manager and trade representatives.
The Statement of Licensing Policy sets out how the Council exercises its functions and the approach to decision making. It also sets out what it expects prospective applicants to consider when preparing applications for new licences or major variations. Section 9 of the policy sets out a number of measures which could be considered, depending on the style of the premises. The Team Manager – Licensing advised, that other than in the Bridgend Town Centre, the consultation did not result in any new trends or issues which would merit a change in policy. As a result, the proposed over-arching Statement was at Appendix A to the report. The changes to this she pointed out, were highlighted in red. They related firstly to updates made to the Council’s corporate objectives. A number of Directorates had changed in their shape or levels of area of responsibility and in view of that, some revisions at page 40 of report needed to be further looked at, ie where some of the addresses of the bodies so listed there, required updating.
The second issue explained the Team Manager – Licensing, related to the Special Cumulative Impact Policy in place in Bridgend Town Centre.
Cumulative Impact is a term used to describe how a density of licensed premises in a particular area can have a negative impact on crime and disorder, littering, anti-social behaviour and nuisance. If a Council identified that there is an evidence problem in an area, it can include a policy to address Cumulative Impact within the main Policy Statement. Such a policy has been in place in Bridgend Town Centre Streets since 2005. The effect of this policy is to control the number of new premises or major changes to premises within the area. The policy effectively creates a rebuttable presumption of all new applications and variations, unless the applicant can demonstrate that their premises will not add to the problems being experienced within that location.
The main change this year is that the Council must undertake an Assessment of Cumulative Impact and publish a separate document before adopting a policy for a specific area.
She further explained as was also outlined in the report, that the South Wales Police was asking the Council to retain the policy which relates to the Bridgend Town Centre streets of Derwen Road, Market Street, Wyndham Street and parts of Nolton Street. Their letter to this effect, was attached at Appendix B to the report.
In terms of the licensing objectives, the South Wales Police had concluded that having a cumulative impact policy has had a direct bearing on the reduction of recorded crime within the town centre and also, incidents of reported anti-social behaviour.
The draft Assessment added the Team Manager – Licensing, was included at Appendix C to the report. As part of the public consultation, she advised that a questionnaire was included to identify issues of concern relating to licensed premises within the town centre.
The sample size is small, ie totalling 15, with members of the public, interested parties and licence holders having replied to such consultation.
93% were in favour of retaining the cumulative impact policy and the top issues of concern were listed in bullet point format in paragraph 4.7 of the report.
The policy was one of a set of measures that can be used to control the impact of licensed premises, which involve enforcement, the use of CCTV and trade schemes, such as Pubwatch.
The Team Manager – Licensing outlined that the conclusion of the assessment, was that there is evidence to support the continuation of a cumulative impact policy for Bridgend town centre and that is a proportionate measure to address the problems so identified there.
The effect of adopting the policy will create a rebuttable presumption that where relevant representations are received, most likely from the police in relation to crime and disorder, but it could relate to public nuisance as well, applications for new premises or variations of existing premises will be refused, unless the applicant can demonstrate that the application will not add to the negative impact in the town centre streets covered by the policy.
Though this was not a blanket policy, it does place the onus on the operator.
She stated that if the responsible authorities or public, have no concern about the proposed style or operation of the premises and do not make representations, then the application would be granted.
The Team Manager – Licensing concluded her submission, by confirming that the policy aims to reduce incidents of alcohol related problems and crime and disorder, as well as to ensure that Bridgend Town Centre is a safe environment for people both visiting and working in the area.
The Cabinet Member – Future Generations and Wellbeing advised that she was pleased to note, that the revised Policy would go some way to mitigating concerns in respect of ant-social behaviour, particularly in Bridgend town centre and particularly the saturation areas of the town where there are a considerable number of late night establishments in close proximity of each other.
The Leader expressed his disappointment in the number of responses received to the consultation, as well as pointing out, that all four towns in the County Borough should be referred to and/or included in the Policy.
RESOLVED: That Cabinet noted the report which would be presented to Council on 18 December 2019.