Licensing Matters instruct Sarah Clover against Kent Police

Sarah Clover Successfully Defends Convenience Store Licence from “COVID-19 Enforcement”

Sarah Clover instructed by Gill Sherratt Licensing Matters consultancy has successfully defended a convenience store licensee from a Police application to revoke the premises licence for a Londis convenience store in Gravesend.  This is one of a number of case studies regarding “COVID-19 Enforcement”.

Kent Police-based the review application on connections that they were making between sales of alcohol from the off-license to people they described as “street drinkers”, who were not only the people known locally to abuse alcohol, but people the Police were observing taking cans of alcohol into the local park during lockdown.

The Officer who compiled the review application did not present it to the Committee or give any responses, although she attended the remote hearing, and Officers who made statements against the licensee did not attend the remote hearing to answer questions about their allegations. The Police based their request for revocation upon a period of only seven weeks, during a time when the licensee had lost his key member of staff for COVID related reasons and had had to leave his own family to live over the shop to cope with the pandemic situation. Despite this, the Police claimed that the licensee was in “continuous breach” of his licence conditions and that they had “no faith in him to uphold the licensing objectives.”. The licensee had been at the store for ten years with no previous issues identified.

It became apparent during the hearing that the Police had no awareness of the guidance given by Home Office Minister, Kit Malthouse in a letter to the Chairs of Licensing Committees, and from the Local Government Association, Institute of Licensing and others to take a more pragmatic and sympathetic approach to businesses during the coronavirus crisis, and had not taken this into account in bringing the review.

The Licensing Panel Decision said this:
“The Panel further considered the impact that the Covid-19 pandemic had on the ability of the licensee to fully comply with the conditions of his licence.

The Panel was disappointed to note that the Police presented no evidence to corroborate many of their claims and that [  the Officer who brought the review] did not address the Panel. In addition, [ the Officers who submitted statements with allegations ] did not attend the Panel to undergo questioning.”

The Panel only imposed the conditions that were offered by the licensee, and declined to reduce the hours of the premises, remove the licensee as DPS or revoke the licence, as the Police had requested.

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Face coverings

Advice from Trading Standards when serving customers wearing face masks or face coverings who wish to purchase an age-restricted product in store, retailers should consider the following:

Retailers should continue to enforce Challenge 25 policies.

Where the retailer can’t confidently assess the age of a customer they should refuse the sale.

Where the retailer or staff member believes that the customer is younger than 25, proof of age should be requested.

The retailer should try and verify the customer in their mask or face covering. Where they cannot confidently verify the age, they should request the mask or face covering is briefly removed. If the customer is unwilling to do this, the sale should be refused.

This important clarification from Trading Standards and this best practice advice will help retailers navigate the sale of age-restricted products in light of the ongoing situation with the Corona virus outbreak.

Bristol set to remove all Cumulative Impact Policies

Bristol council have this month made the decision to remove all Cumulative Impact Policies that are currently in force from the 1st August 2020.

This includes the City Centre, Whiteladies Road, Gloucester Road, Clifton, Southville & Bedminster areas previously covered by a Cumulative Impact Policy.

The council will be undertaking a consultation process in the coming months with regard to a new smaller Cumulative Impact Policy in the City Centre, however this means there will be a period from the 1st of August where no Policy will be in force.

Coronavirus: Nottinghamshire ‘lock-in’ pub closed under new laws

Off-licences added to list of ‘essential’ retailers

New Government rules on staying at home and away from others published today

Last evening the Government has published new and stricter rules coming into force immediately on staying at home and keeping away from others, in an effort to stop the spread of COVID-19. 

These rules were announced by the Prime Minister in an address to the nation earlier today, and in brief are:

1. Requiring people to stay at home, except for very limited purposes 

2. The closure of non-essential shops and community spaces 

3. Stopping all gatherings of more than two people

Hotels, hostels, bed and breakfasts, campsites, caravan parks, and boarding houses for commercial/leisure use (excluding permanent residents and key workers) are all required to close.

The full publication of the rules can be seen on the link below

Government to relax planning rules to allow pubs and restaurants to operate as takeaways

As part of the measures the government is introducing to help the hospitality industry during the coronavirus outbreak, the Communities Secretary has confirmed that planning regulations will temporarily be relaxed to allow all pubs and restaurants to operate as takeaways of hot food and drinks to serve people staying at home.

Currently, a planning application for change of use class is required to convert pubs and restaurants to hot food takeaways. Under the emergency measures the government will allow a temporary change of use without an application. This time limited permitted development right will last for 12 months.

The government will introduce the measures as soon as possible through secondary legislation. 

Operators are reminded however that the sale of hot food and hot drink between 11:00pm and 05:00am will still require authorisation for late night refreshment under licensing law. 

Lost and Grounded brewery ordered to change pale ale artwork

VJ Day extension

“The government today has announced it will consult on a proposal to relax licensing hours to celebrate the 75th anniversary of Victory over Japan (VJ) Day.

The proposed order will be to extend licensing hours from 2300 on the Saturday 15 August 2020 until 0100 the following morning, Sunday 16 August 2020.

In a written statement made to the Home Office, Kit Malthouse – The Minister of State for Crime, Policing and the Fire Service – said that this proposal will be subject to a short consultation with selected partners including licensing authorities, the police, residents and the licensed trade.