The Live Music Forum
Hamish Birchall Bulletin
Thursday 25th January - Unmarked draft changes in Licensing Guidance
Unmarked draft revisions in the Licensing Guidance further undermine the government's public safety rationale for licensing.
When DCMS published the latest draft Licensing Guidance for public consultation (16 January) it looked as though the proposed changes were marked with coloured fonts. However, it seems that other substantial proposed revisions are unmarked. These include a new 'Public safety' section, paras 2.17-2.29, pp20-21.
This deals with new fire safety legislation: the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 which came into forceon 01 October 2006.
The new draft public safety section in the DCMS Licensing Guidance confirms that as a result of the new fire safety law, fire certificates issued under the Fire Precautions Act 1971 cease to have effect. Moreover, it also states that:
'... under section 43 of the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 any conditions imposed by the licensing authority that relate to any requirements or prohibitions that are or could be imposed by the Order have no effect. This means that licensing authorities should not seek to impose fire safety conditions where the Order applies.'
The Guidance states that the Order will apply to 'most premises'. This certainly includes bars, pubs, hotels and restaurants.
Para 2.26 of the draft revised Guidance includes this advice: '... if a capacity has been imposed through other legislation, it would be unnecessary to reproduce it in a premises licence.'
Fire officers are setting a 'safe capacity' for workplaces using the new fire safety legislation, where they believe this is necessary. However, I understand that Westminster Council continues to impose safe capacities on bars through licensing, on the grounds that this is necessary to prevent crime and disorder, and public nuisance.
Licensing Act amended
The Licensing Act has itself has already been amended to take the new fire safety regime into account, specifically s.177, 'Dancing and live music in certain small premises'. The reference to fire certificates in the context of 'permitted capacity' has been removed under s.177(8). The changes are not shown on the statute as published on the web: http://www.opsi.gov.uk/ACTS/acts2003/30017--j.htm#177
but are set out under Schedule 3, para 50, of the Fire Safety Order (URL already cited above).
Other useful links:
'Guidance for business' on the new fire safety regime from the Department for Communities and Local Government: http://www.communities.gov.uk/index.asp?id=1162101
DCMS link to the draft revised Licensing Guidance in PDF format (1.9mb): http://www.culture.gov.uk/NR/rdonlyres/B63BEF81-2AA1-433A-84CB-237F257008A3/0/DraftrevisedGuidancetobeissuedundersection182oftheLicensingAct2003.pdf