Consultation on Licensing Shakeup

As the pubs reopen, residents are being invited to take part in a consultation on the future of the licensing trade in the island.

At the core of the proposed Liquor Licensing and Public Entertainments Bill is an acceptance from DHA that the existing ‘alcohol licensing regime on the island is now outdated, overly bureaucratic and inflexible’. The consultation, launched by the Department of Home Affairs, will, it says, create a ‘standards driven, safety orientated, less bureaucratic and more flexible licensing regime’.

Licensing Court

A major proposed change within the structure of alcohol licensing comes with the establishment of a Licensing Authority which will replace the present use of the Licensing Court. The Licensing Authority would be independent to the DHA, with an independent chair. Those parties presently involved in the grant of licences such as the police, fire and rescue service along with other groups with a view pertinent to the licence being considered will be considered in forming the lineup of the new authority.

The Licensing Court would  then become the appeal court for decisions taken by the Licensing Authority.

Restrictive Agreements

One of the most interesting sections of the proposed Bill would end the regime of former pubs being sold off with covenants forbidding the future sale of alcohol. Section 61, which focuses on such agreements would make these void, thereby allowing purchasers of former pubs to, subject to planning, do with them as they wish. 

On his Facebook page, Ramsey HMK Dr Alex Allinson said the proposal is a ‘progressive and much needed Bill which will give more flexibility and opportunities for our hospitality sector just as it reopens following a prolonged period of disruption’.

The DESC Minister added: ‘Ramsey currently has four pubs laying empty. I understand they are under a covenant that states once sold the new owner cannot apply for a new license. I believe this is wrong and is blighting many towns on our island. Clause 61 of the new Bill aims to stop this practice and allow for the regeneration of such buildings. I suspect some of the breweries and pub chains will object, but please make your voice heard on page 11 of this brief consultation.’

Flexible Licensing

The Bill could also see the introduction of a number of possible types of licence which would allow greater flexibility for events. It would also introduce bureaucratic licensing for BYOB events. The DHA said this is ‘to ensure that the premises operating BYOB have, for example, training in place and the Police have the opportunity to review premises if necessary to manage public safety concerns’. 

However, it does say this would be a ‘light touch’ system and would not affect not-for-profit or charity events. The proposals would also see changes made to TT licensing by removing the requirement for an annual license to be granted for the festival. 

The proposals include:

  •  On-licence – the standard licence type held by most public houses and restaurants where alcohol is sold to be consumed on the premises.
  •  Off-licence – the standard licence type held by most premises where alcohol is sold for consumption at home i.e. shops and off-licences.
  •  Registered Club Licence.
  •  Occasional event licence – similar to the present occasional licence but with the
    potential that such a short-term licence might be “repeated” e.g. a TT occasional licence could be issued for use over a span of years rather than annually.
  •  Other categories of licence – event/trade show licence for use with pop-up or
    managed events where another organiser has overall responsibility for the
    facilities where the event is taking place.
  •  Charitable Function Licence.
  •  Mobile licence.
  •  Bring Your Own Bottle – introduction of an infrequent, low cost and light touch
    notification requirement, much like Firework display notifications, rather than a licence – to ensure that the premises operating BYOB have, for example, training in place and the Police have the opportunity to review premises if necessary to manage public safety concerns. As currently envisaged, this would not affect not-for-profit or charity events.
  •  Transport licence – a licence for use in connection with passenger transport e.g. boats or trains.

To read the proposed changes, open the link below and the consultation can be found here.

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