How Sintons is helping the region’s leisure industry

This article was featured in the North East Times on 04/12/12.

In the run up to party season and the influx of even more revellers to the region’s late night bars and clubs, licence holders have had to get to grips with the introduction of a number of important changes to the licensing industry — something Sintons law firm has been assisting with.

Sintons Leisure Services Team, lead by Sarah Smith, that specialises in all aspects of alcohol, entertainment and gambling licensing, has been kept busy of late with the introduction of a number of interesting and important changes to the licensing industry.

Late night venues have been most affected with levies and Early Morning Restriction Orders (EMROs).

Local councils can now choose to introduce a late night levy to premises licensed to sell alcohol from midnight to 6am.The belief is that businesses which profit by selling alcohol in the late night economy should contribute towards the costs —with funds generated split between the police and the council.

With EMROs, any premises selling alcohol within the area where the order is in force must stop selling alcohol at the stipulated cut-off time (between midnight and 6am). Sintons Licensing Partner Sarah Smith explains: “The Government has introduced these measures in order, as they see it, to rebalance the Licensing Act 2003 in favour of local communities and to increase the tools and powers available to the licensing authorities and the police to tackle alcohol-related problems in local areas”.

If levies and EMROs are adopted, local authorities have the ability to impact heavily on the profitability, not only on these night licensed venues, but other businesses reliant on this industry.

It is therefore important that local authorities consult with licence holders who would be affected if these measures were enforced.

As a result, Sintons was involved in a panel debate about this issue on October 16 at Newcastle University Business School, along with representatives from the police and the council.

Sarah, who presented the event was joined on the evening by Stephen Savage and Councillor Henri Murison from Newcastle City Council and CI Bruce Storey from Northumbria Police, as well as a number of local licence holders.

Sarah reveals: “Sintons decided to get involved in the panel debate in order to make sure that local operators were fully aware of the implications of the changes to the law and how they were likely to affect them on a day-to-day basis.

“Newcastle council indicated that they were more likely to introduce a levy rather than a EMRO while Sunderland Police, on the other hand, indicated their preference for the introduction of an EMRO in Sunderland city centre.

“Clearly the operators were keen to express their view and they did so in quite a forthright manner. What many in the on-licence trade believe is that anti-social behaviour is often the result of alcohol discounting by supermarkets and off-licensed premises. This was a view that they were keen to get across to the council and the police”

On a more positive note for licence holders, the Live Music Act 2012 came into force on October 1. It removes the need to hold a premises licence to provide entertainment facilities such as a dance floor, microphone stands or a piano.

The act also allows amplified live music to take place on a premises authorised to sell alcohol for consumption between Sam and 11 pm, before audiences of no more than 200 people, or unamplified live music to take place between these times in any venue.

Sarah comments: “These changes will be of particular benefit to operators of smaller licensed premises who are not currently licensed to provide entertainment as they can now consider offering these facilities without the expense of obtaining a licence”

To speak to a member of Sintons Leisure Services Team about complying with all aspects of licensing law, call (0191) 226 7878.

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