Patrick Crowley, Licensing Manager, introduced the Licensing Team’s Annual Update. He explained that an additional administrator now worked in the processing team, and a licensing administration manager was shared with the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea. Hammersmith and Fulham still had two dedicated Licensing Officers, Adrian Overton and Lisa White. The Police had also had staffing changes with Stuart Ratcliffe being promoted to Inspector and moved to a different area. PC Michael Payne had also moved on to a different area of work. Two new police officers had been appointed to deal with licensing and they were very enthusiastic.
Patrick Crowley said that the team had carried out slightly fewer investigations than in 2015-16 but that the team had been involved in more regulatory action. More visits to businesses had taken place than in 2015-16.
The number of Gambling Premises in the borough had remained static in 2016/17.
Karen Layug explained that the team had made a number of improvements to their processes. Companies listed on licensing applications were now checked against the information held by Companies House. More information was now being recorded about fees to help the Council to comply with the new 2-part licensing fees regime. More information was generally being kept on premises to help officers with their work. Options were being explored for online applications and for improving information available through the website.
Patrick Crowley explained that after a long consultation exercise the Statement of Licensing Policy had been approved by Full Council and would come in to force on 3 July. The Statement of Gambling Policy would be renewed in 2019.
Mr Crowley explained that the Immigration Act 2016 had placed additional duties on the Council, with officers now having to check an applicant’s right to work before processing their licensing application. The Home Office had also been added to the list of responsible authorities. There had also been a House of Lords Select Committee on the Licensing Act 2003 which had recommended radical changes, including the abolition of Licensing Committees and their functions be passed to Planning Committees. It was not considered that these changes would be made quickly, if at all.
Councillor Aherne said that he was concerned about the proposal to pass powers to the planning committee. He asked what opportunity there would be to comment on any plans and whether the Council could object to them. Patrick Crowley said that if the government accepted the proposals they would almost certainly issue a consultation, which the Council could respond to.
Councillor Aherne said that he was concerned about the attitude of Queens’ Park Rangers football club towards the Council’s investigation into breaches of their licence. Adrian Overton explained that the potential breaches were not able to be considered when the new licence was granted as the investigation was ongoing, however, the issue remained with the Council’s lawyers.
The Chair asked why the joint visits with Customs and Immigration officers had been concentrated Uxbridge Road and Goldhawk Road. Adrian Overton explained that there was a concentration of small supermarkets, take-aways and off licences in the area, which was the type of premises to be targeted.
The Chair thanked Council officers for their work throughout the year, and paid tribute to the work of Inspector Ratcliffe and PC Payne for their work on Licensing in the borough over many years.