CEC licensing consultations: NTBCC’s submissions

NTBCC has submitted the following comments to consultations on the statement of licensing policy and overprovision in Edinburgh

Consultation on The Statement of Licensing Policy

Below are our comments on the proposed statement of licensing policy.

We were disappointed that some areas we highlighted should be addressed in the review were ignored, so they are being repeated here. It is the failure to tackle some of these important problems that makes us, and the rest of the community, lose confidence in the Licensing Board and we hope that the Board will consider these points even though they are not on the list.

We have also commented on the specific questions posed by the Board. These are below.

Jonathan Finn
Licensing Convener
New Town and Broughton Community Council
30 September 2018

  1. Provision of information

We feel the Board is failing in its duties by supplying insufficient information to the public on liquor licences close to people’s homes. The majority of people are completely unaware of variations to existing licences when they are made, as the notification process is not fit for purpose.

The New Town and Broughton Community Council has been told that variations are notified to neighbours, but we know this does not happen, apart from a notice pinned to a post somewhere near the premises. Certainly no individual notice is sent, in the way that would be required for a planning application. The variations themselves are poorly explained and vague.

Neighbours are not individually notified about changes to opening hours, capacity, layout, table licences etc yet these changes can have a severe impact on their lives. Neighbours absolutely must be notified. Furthermore, they must be provided with full details.

The Board currently requires the public to visit the Council Offices to view details of any licensed premises application. This is unacceptable.

We also feel that the procedure for making noise complaints should be set out clearly. Not just a phone number, but a full explanation of the process, the hours of operation of the noise team, and how the complaint will be managed by the Council.

The public view the Licensing Board as secretive, and protective of licensed premises. Lack of information and the difficulty of obtaining it perpetuates this view.

  1. Late Licences

The New Town and Broughton Community Council feel that the lack of public toilet facilities must be considered when late licences are granted. It is clear that after closing time, lack of toilet facilities results in public nuisance, anti-social behaviour, and health and safety issues. The Council is therefore failing in several of its licensing objectives by not taking this into consideration.

Furthermore, toilet facilities should be available for a period not just up to closing time, but also for a period after closing time, and for late night catering outlets as well as bars and clubs selling alcohol. It is the recent closure of so many public facilities that now makes this necessary. We are not suggesting that these facilities have to be sited in the premises requesting the late licence, but that the premises should be able to demonstrate that facilities are available nearby whether they be public toilets, portable toilets, or an agreement with other premises.

For catering outlets, we would also like to see these outlets taking responsibility for clearing discarded packaging and food within say 50m of their premises. This should be a condition of licence. Again we feel the Board is failing in its licensing objectives by not requiring this, as this littering encourages rats – clearly a health and safety concern.

  1. Waste management

More generally, we feel that waste management should form part of the licensing process. The Statement should include clear guidelines on the management of waste, both in terms of storage and recycling.

  1. Passive smoking

We would like to see new paragraphs in the Statement dealing specifically with the risks from passive smoking outside a licensed premise. We would be keen to see limits on the numbers of smokers that can be allowed outside at any one time in order to reduce the impact on neighbours in terms of smoke and noise. This is in line with the licensing objectives to improve public health and prevent public nuisance.

Response to the Board’s questions

  1. Children and Young Persons’ Access

Our view is that the Board should continue to look at this on a case by case basis.

  1. Extended Use of Occasional Licences

We do not agree with the use of multiple occasional licences running contiguously. We also do not agree with the proposal that the limit should be on the number of licences per year, but instead on the total number of days in each year for which occasional licences could be granted.

  1. Extended hours for events in Licensed Premises

We do not see any need to define a list of possible dates for extended hours events. This will probably just lead to an increase in the use of extended hours as licensed premises try to take advantage of every event to stay open later.

  1. Amplified music in Licensed premises

We support a review of the policy. We would also like to know if the variation has fulfilled its objective of encouraging more live music in Edinburgh. If not, then there would seem to be no grounds for this policy to be continued. We would also like to see a more objective definition of nuisance, so that complaints can be managed properly.

  1. Licensed hours

Our view is that the key consideration is proximity to residents, not the part of the city the licensed premises are in. There are areas outside the city centre where a 3am licence would be appropriate just as there are areas in the city centre where 1am is too late.

Consultation on Overprovision<

We support the designation of the Old Town and City Centre area as an area of overprovision.

The tables below make it clear that the New Town is considerably better provided with drinking establishments than the Old Town. For example each of Frederick Street, Rose Street, Hanover Street, Princes Street and George Street have similar capacity to Grassmarket, Cowgate and George IV Bridge. The total capacity of the New Town (excluding all the temporary licences granted during the Festival, for example) is 50,000, compared to just under 20,000 in the Old Town, yet only the Old Town is currently classified as an area of over-provision.

We, of course, support the retention of the Old Town as an area of over-provision.

Click to see full-size version of this graphic.

However, it seems clear from the statistics (see below) that the whole area bounded by Princes Street, Leith Street, Queensferry Street and Queen Street should be included in the definition of overprovision. The current proposed area of overprovision ignores the west side (half of George Street, and the westerly block of Rose Street), which clearly needs to be incorporated into the area.

This map shows the current proposed area, shaded green. The New Town and Broughton Community Council propose the area be increased to include the whole of the first new town.

We are in favour of all premises selling alcohol to be included in the definition.

Jonathan Finn
Licensing Convener
New Town and Broughton Community Council
30 September 2018

Street Capacity Street Capacity
Abercromby Place 824 George Iv Bridge 2,915
Brandon Terrace 94 Grassmarket 3,849
Brougham Street 224 Victoria Street 2,113
Broughton Road 876 West Bow 170
Canonmills 80 Forrest Road 776
Castle Street 996 Cowgate 3,103
Charlotte Lane 566 Blackfriars Street 754
Charlotte Square 993 Niddry Street 1,544
Cumberland Street 198 Teviot Place 137
Dublin Street 463 Merchant Street 517
Dundas Street 399 Blair Street 1,109
East Claremont Street 163 West Port 613
East London Street 150 Bristo Place 609
Eyre Place 237 Cowgatehead 75
Frederick Street 2,850 Candlemaker Row 329
George Street 10,602 Niddry Street South 763
Hanover Street 3,014 TOTAL 19,376
Henderson Row
Howe Street 321
Jamaica Street 160
Leith Walk 1,885
Leopold Place 81
London Road 282
London Street 1,871
Mcdonald Road
North Castle Street 389
North St Andrew Street 56
North St David Street
Northumberland Place 95
Northumberland Street 60
Princes Street 5,213
Queen Street 1,739
Queensferry Street 1,318
Randolph Crescent 60
Randolph Place 588
Rose Street 4,051
Rose Street North Lane 136
Rose Street South Lane 23
Royal Terrace 814
South Charlotte Street 701
South St Andrew Street 356
St Andrew Square 5,660
St Andrews Square 150
St Vincent Street 100
Thistle Street 534
Thistle Street North West Lane 48
West Register Street 1,276
Young Street 282
TOTAL 50,978