And in the blink of an eye it is Easter. It doesn’t seem like 5 minutes since we were breaking up for the Christmas holidays. It has been an unbelievably busy start to the year. All sectors seem to be particularly busy. James Thompson and Vinnie Schumacher have been tied up with the Uber litigation and are currently involved in a week-long inquest in Newcastle. The Regulatory practice at Woods Whur has really taken off since James joined us and he is not only servicing his own client base, but has also taken some significant instructions from long-standing clients of the firm. Unfortunately, from time to time, accidents can happen in licensed premises and it is really important to have first-rate systems in place so as to be able to deal with the regulatory fall-out after the event. What we have been learning from James is how important it is to be pro-active and not just re-active. We will be announcing some Regulatory and Licensing breakfast briefings for later in the year, so please feel free to book up for these when they become available.
There is a real buzz in Leeds and around the country, with new instructions significantly more numerous than in previous years. The recent news that some casual dining operators are struggling is bound to have an impact. Prezzo have announced that they are closing a number of units and we have already taken instructions to change premises licences from food-led offers to a wider leisure operation. This could have some very interesting consequences for premises which sit in Cumulative Impact Policy Areas. I have always been nervous about how CIPs can stifle development and keep potential new quality operators out of them. We have already started advising clients who are looking at sites in which they would need to remove restrictive conditions from a premises licence. These applications could well trigger local CIP – based objections and it will be interesting to see how the regulatory authorities view them. I have recently had a meeting with the Police and Licensing Authority in one town which has already started to look at the wording of its CIP. They have rightly assessed that there is the potential for a number of boarded-up frontages if they aren’t forward-thinking with their policies and approach to sites like this.
Live music venues appear to be flourishing and we currently have applications running in Cardiff, Birmingham and Bristol–it is fantastic to see operators investing in bespoke music venues and we are excited to be involved. I am also currently working with the operators of the Shindig festival in Somerset and that sector shows no sign of slowing down. I have, however, worked out that Yeovil is a long way from Leeds!
The gambling market is still moving on apace. Andy and Anna are both very busy with exciting casino projects in London and Brighton in particular: the sector looks like it is in for an era of change and development. Anna continues to receive fantastic instructions in the lotteries sector which never seems to slow down, and we all have interesting instructions in the on-line sector at the moment. Don’t forget to register to come along to our gambling conference and networking event at the Hippodrome Casino in Leicester Square on 8th May.
Please email Sarah@woodswhur.co.uk if you would like to attend.
There are not many spaces left so please do not miss out if you are intending to come along.
There are always challenges to face in the leisure industries and the betting industry is waiting with bated breath to see what the Government does about stakes and prizes for fixed odds betting machines. Anna deals with this in her detailed article on what could be a game-changer for the betting boys. It is a very interesting balancing act, that the Government must now wrestle with.
We are delighted that we have a new solicitor in the team. Leigh Schelvis has joined us from another Leeds firm and has already become immersed in our case load. Leigh is a two year-qualified lawyer and has strong connections with many of the independent operators in Leeds (working for them…not just socialising in them.) He will be supporting all of the senior lawyers at Woods Whur and, in particular, helping me in the Leeds and Yorkshire markets. We all hope that Leigh has a long and enjoyable career with us. Being Australian, we have been able to tease him about the disgraceful ball-tampering by his Country’s cricket team in South Africa. That said, our Kiwi, Vinnie Schumacher, has the bragging rights after we lost the first cricket test in New Zealand.
Let’s hope we do not see “the Beast from the East 3” over Easter and that all of our clients have a profitable long weekend.