The Licensing Act 2003 Statement Of Licensing Policy January 2021
The licensing authority recognises that, in some circumstances, flexible licensing hours for the sale of alcohol can help to ensure that concentrations of customers leaving premises simultaneously are avoided. This can help reduce the friction at late night fast food outlets, taxi ranks and other sources of transport, which can lead to disorder and disturbance. Providing customers with greater choice and flexibility is an important consideration, but will always be balanced against the duty to promote the four licensing objectives and the rights of local residents to peace and quiet.
However, the licensing authority recognises that longer opening hours can place undue pressure on the local transport infrastructure, accident and emergency services and law enforcement agencies and can create a nuisance for those residents who are affected by revellers returning home during the early hours.
In Balance's recent Public Perceptions Survey, of those responding from Stockton-on-Tees, 61% of people felt an appropriate time for pubs and bars to start selling alcohol was between 11am and 12 noon. Only 10% felt that an earlier time was appropriate. The average closing time deemed appropriate was 11:46pm, with 74% of all people surveyed suggesting that bars should close between 11pm and 1am. Only 13% of Stockton residents felt later than that was appropriate.
The licensing authority will not seek to engineer any pattern of closing times (staggered closing times) by seeking quotas for particular closing times.
Various factors will affect the appropriateness of the licensing hours. This will include, for example, premises located within predominately residential areas; premises located in an area in which concerns around the volumes of outlets have previously been raised; premises located in an area in which levels of alcohol related harms have been previously highlighted as an issue; and on- licence premises that are used by a significant number of young people and therefore increase exposure to the sale and consumption of alcohol, such as cinemas, soft play areas and school events.
Shops, stores and supermarkets will in general be licensed to provide sales of alcohol for consumption off the premises at any time when the retail outlet is open for shopping but new or variation applications requesting that the sale of alcohol starts before 9.00am or finishes after 10.00pm in residential areas will generally be refused. In addition, new or variation applications for the supply of alcohol for consumption on the premises before 9.00am or after 11.30pm (12 midnight on a Friday and Saturday night) in residential areas will normally be refused.
New or variation applications for late night refreshment in terms of hot food takeaways in residential areas will normally be refused beyond 12 midnight.
In non-residential areas new or variation applications for licences to allow the sale of alcohol or the supply of late night refreshment beyond 3.00am will normally be refused, subject to relevant representations being received.
Drinking Up Time
The traditional 'drinking up time' was not carried over into the Act. However the hours during which applicants are licensed to sell or supply alcohol and the opening hours need not be identical and therefore applicants of premises licensed for the on-sale of alcohol are recommended to consider a drinking up/cooling down period during which music volume may be reduced, customers may consume their drinks and make arrangements for transport from the premises. The Council considers that a 30 minute drinking up time will assist in the gradual dispersal of customers and consequently reduce impact on the area.
The licensing authority accepts that licensed premises can have a diffuse impact. People can cause disturbance when returning to residential areas from later opening premises elsewhere and people who use off-licences may locate to a remote spot to drink. These problems are not within the control of any particular licensed premises and are not within the scope of the Act. However, premises licence holders are expected to take measures to encourage people to leave their premises quietly and considerately. The licensing authority would encourage premises to adopt a dispersal policy where appropriate.