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Paddy Whur’s Summer Update

Well its been a significantly busy start to 2016 and it does look as if Leeds has been a particularly vibrant market. Recent statistics have put Leeds in the same league table as Cardiff and Liverpool as leading for regional openings of new licensed premises. Whilst places like Manchester, Birmingham, Leeds and Cardiff have always been well stocked with pubs and bars, their range of restaurants has per capita been well below that of London. However, this is not the case now as these regional heavy weights are starting to offer a wide range of premises for customers to choose from. We have been fortunate to receive a significant number of these instructions and continue to assist operators when they are looking at new sites within the city.

We are delighted to be instructed in relation to the new Dakota Hotel on Greek Street in Leeds which will be a significant addition to the hotel sector. Clearly there is still a need for new reasonably priced beds in Leeds to cope with the increasing demands as a leisure destination city.

In our last newsletter I did comment on the issue of takeaways and the potential need for toilet provision due to the recent High Court ruling. At that stage I didn’t have a copy of the Decision. However, please find the link below to the reported case and can I thank James Rankin of Francis Taylor Buildings for sending me the case. We will of course continue to report on this matter if and when the Court of Appeal looks at the Decision.

The case of Hemmings which deals with the ability of public authority to recover enforcement costs has now been litigated in the European Court of Justice. We may have to wait until the end of the year until we see the Decision of this case. Clearly Licensing Authority’s will be interested to see the final Determination of this Decision.

What is the current state of play with EMRO’s and the Late Night Levy

There has not been a great deal happening in relation to the EMRO and the Late Night Levy. We still do not have an EMRO in place. The only public hearing so far has been in Blackpool and other Licensing Authority’s seem to be reluctant to go through the protracted procedure when Blackpool reported a significant cost for the process with no positive result.

It appears that the Late Night Levy is also now stuttering as Blackpool have also voted against the implementation of the Levy as recently as the 25th May. They are going to review this decision later, probably in six months time but may favour a more structured review of their Statement of Licensing Policy. Tower Hamlets are currently in the process of consulting on the potential of the introduction of late night Levy. The consultation was due to conclude in mid May but we have not yet seen a decision as to how Tower Hamlets are to move forward. However, most other areas that have gone out to consultation have rejected the Levy and we will have to see whether any more Authorities look to introduce a Levy.

In April Nottingham announced their Levy raised £150,000 less than they had expected. Clearly there is a huge amount of bureaucracy to go through to secure a late night Levy and if the financial remuneration is not what was expected we can understand why many authorities are going cold on the concept.

We have seen the first prosecution for selling alcohol at a cost which is below the permitted minimum price. In May a shop keeper in Gateshead was found guilty of four charges relating to the sale of Kommissar Vodka which was found to be unfit for human consumption. The prosecution for the breach of the mandatory condition on minimum price was therefore wrapped up in a more broad prosecution relating to the sale of counterfeit vodka. He was fined £3,200 and ordered to pay costs. We have been involved in cases where alcohol was sold below the minimum price but the Police and Licensing Authority concerned dealt with the matter by way of a formal caution for the criminal offence and a review of the Premises Licence.

What will the rest of the summer bring?

Well we move into the height of summer and have the Queen’s 90th birthday extended licensing hours and also the Euro 2016 Football Championships to look forward to. It is going to be important that Premise Licence holders ensure that plastic bottles and glasses are used in outside areas – when the sun arrives! If there are conditions on Premises Licences they will be monitored and it is important in the circumstances that plastic/polycarbonate glasses are used. In addition should England, Wales and Ireland perform well there could be euphoria in licensed premises and it is important in the circumstances for licensees to remember that selling to someone who is intoxicated is a criminal offence and can lead to criminal prosecution and/or review of a Premises Licence.

I have been involved in a serious Summary licence Review this year in which the Premises Licence holder was being threatened with the revocation of his licence. A great deal of the evidence produced by the Police was of the level of drunkenness/incapacity of people in and leaving the venue. Operators often forget this is a critical part of the management of their premises and if not handled correctly could lead to the threat of prosecution and/or the loss of licence.

Lets hope that all the teams do well – with England winning the tournament – the sun comes out and we can all have a glorious summer.

Its hard to believe that it has been twenty years since we watched France play Spain at Elland Road in Euro 1996 and then saw Gazza score the wonder goal against Scotland. What a fabulous day and the pubs were all closed by midnight!