Hounslow Council


Agenda and minutes

Venue: Committee Room 3, Civic Centre, Lampton Road, Hounslow. View directions

Contact: Bill Lee, e-mail:  william.lee@hounslow.gov.uk or by phone on 020 8583 2068 

Items
No. Item

18.

Apologies for absence, declarations of interest or any other communications from Members

Minutes:

Apologies for absence were received from Cllrs David Hughes, Adrian Lee and John Todd.

 

Cllr Peter Carey stated that he felt the lack of any representative from the Council’s Legal Department was very poor. New members were present and the committee was being asked to examine new policies. Cllr Tony Louki asked officers if it was usual to have no legal adviser present; he advised that as a point of principle it was completely wrong for there to be no lawyer on such an important committee. Elected members formed the committee to steer licensing policy in a borough with over 4,000 licensed premises but meetings were regularly cancelled and he felt that the current situation gave cause to question whether the Licensing Committee was taken sufficiently seriously by officers. He asked that both Chief Executive Mary Harpley and Richard Gruet, Assistant Director Corporate Governance, be made aware that members objected to the fact that the meeting was taking place without a legal adviser. Cllr Nisar Malik shared the same concerns and seconded Cllrs Louki and Carey’s statements; he also questioned whether the committee would be able to make proper decisions if there was to be any query on points of law.

 

Licensing Manager Lewis Aldous apologised on behalf of officers and advised that no one had been aware there would be no lawyer present until 3.30 pm that day, which was confirmed by the Chair, Cllr Shantanu Rajawat. Cllr Rajawat assured members that all reports had been passed to the Legal Department for comment and he expressed full confidence in Mr Aldous’ ability to give necessary advice on licensing law. The clerk advised that if members felt that further legal advice was necessary on any matter then a decision could be made in principle and subsequently confirmed by Caroline Eaton, Head of Litigation; any legal issues arising would be referred back to the Committee.

19.

Minutes of the meeting held on 31st March 2014 and Matters Arising pdf icon PDF 81 KB

Minutes:

The minutes of the meeting held on 31 March 2014 were agreed to be a true and accurate record and signed.

 

Cllr Louki referred to page 4, bullet points 3 and 4:

 

“That the Licensing Committee agreed:

 

  • that a report on the number of FPNs issued, fine paid and any prosecutions conducted be produced by the Licensing Team in March 2015 to allow the Licensing Committee to review the decision; and

 

  • that a complete list of current street trading licences be compiled by the Licensing Team and be made available to members on request.”

 

He asked what progress had been made. Licensing Manager Lewis Aldous advised that he would present an update on Fixed Penalty Notices at the March meeting as planned and that a list of all licensed street traders was available to members on request.

 

Cllr Elizabeth Hughes stated that she had requested a list of all licensed premises in the borough two years previously which had still not appeared. Mr Aldous advised that because the Council had not had a licensing function until the current Licensing Act came into force the authority had not historically possessed the data. The authority was currently moving to a new system and hoped to publish a public register online. A spreadsheet of current licences was available already but unfortunately the data was unsuitable to permit the information to be made available by ward until the new system was in place.

 

Cllr Hughes asked for a borough wide map with the intensity of licensed premises in each area marked. Mr Aldous stated that such a map was being produced regarding the Cumulative Impact Policy. This was not being created by the Licensing Team and was very time consuming but it would be possible for the information to be produced ward by ward. Cllr Mukesh Malhotra advised that he had asked for the same information and had been very disappointed that it had not been possible to produce it for some time. Mr Aldous confirmed that without a Cumulative Impact Policy it was not lawful to refuse a licence on the ground that there were too many in the immediate area, despite that being a very common objection from members of the public.   

20.

Licensing Report pdf icon PDF 90 KB

Minutes:

Please see the Chair’s report (agenda item 3 plus appendices a, b and c.)

 

Licensing Report and Appendix A (Licensing Team Update)

 

Lewis Aldous presented the report. He advised that there was currently no enforcement officer following the departure of Michael Fish; the position had been advertised but no suitable candidates had applied. Mr Aldous stated that this was due to the post being set at too low a grade to attract the right person. It was a highly specialised area requiring extensive legal knowledge and so it was essential to raise the grade. Currently he was carrying out the role himself with the two processing officers assisting where possible and he hoped that the vacancy would be filled in the New Year.

 

The Licensing Team had recently secured a conviction in their first prosecution for illegal street trading, in Isleworth, costing the trader a total of £3,060. A press release had been issued on the council’s website but unfortunately a communications problem prevented the news from being published in the Hounslow Chronicle. It would however appear in the Hounslow magazine. The next such prosecution, of an ice cream van operator in Hounslow Town Centre, was due in court at the end of November. At the time of the meeting six Fixed Penalty Notices (FPNs) had been issued for illegal street trading; some to unlicensed traders and some to licensed traders in breach of their conditions. In the latter cases warnings were given before the FPNs were issued. Mr Aldous stated that he had recently walked the length of Hounslow High Street and seen no illegal traders, which was a marked improvement in the situation. There had been no recent joint action with police as part of Operation Condor but premises had been visited in conjunction with HMRC; if serious breaches of licences were found the authority would conduct reviews.

 

The Reducing the Strength initiative had been piloted in Hounslow and Isleworth and all concerned had been invited to an event to be held in the LPCC in the Civic Centre. Representatives from the Metropolitan Police and Ipswich Council (originators of the scheme) were to attend along with a consultant from the West Middlesex Hospital. Letters had been sent to all off licences concerned and Mr Aldous was hopeful of high attendance.

 

Mr Aldous acknowledged difficulties regarding enforcement of the Gambling Act 2005 caused by the current lack of a dedicated enforcement officer. The authority would concentrate on the issue of underage gambling and whilst unable to prosecute would review the licence of any premises found to permit such activity. He asked for members to notify the Licensing Team if they saw illegal gaming machines in taxi offices or takeaways; any found would be confiscated along with any money inside.

 

The Council’s Licensing Policy under the 2003 Act needed to be reissued every five years, the next being 2015. The current policy was, said Mr Aldous, outdated and needed to be revamped incorporating a Cumulative Impact Policy  ...  view the full minutes text for item 20.

21.

Appendix A - Licensing update pdf icon PDF 49 KB

22.

Appendix B: - Cumulative Impact Proposals pdf icon PDF 143 KB

23.

Appendix C: - Draft Street Trading Policy pdf icon PDF 200 KB

24.

Urgent Business

Any business which the Chair agrees to accept on grounds of urgency.