Last Chance to Have Your Say on Changes in Local Licensing Policy

How residents will be informed not specified in new arrangements

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Hounslow Council is asking borough residents for comments on a new licensing draft policy which will determine how new applications by pubs and restaurants will be managed in the next five years.

A consultation is being held on the policy with the deadline for responses being Monday 27 July.

Despite one of the stated objectives of the lengthy document being the protection of the community, no reference is made to the way in which residents will be kept informed.

At the moment any applicant has a legal obligation to advertise their intention to apply for a new premises licence or vary an existing one under the 2003 Licensing Act in ‘a locally circulating newspaper’. Currently Hounslow Council only deem applications compliant from a printed local newspaper and applicants are guided towards using the Chronicle and Informer which is published by Reach Plc.

This newspaper has seen a substantial reduction in its print run and distribution area over the last few years and, even before the coronavirus outbreak, was not circulating in large parts of the borough including all of Brentford and Chiswick. Previously some applicants had used sites like to advertise their applications but licensing officers eventually ruled them as non-compliant even though the legislation does not specify the newspaper used needs to be printed. When asked how it was justifiable to inform residents of applications that may affect them in a newspaper that was not available in the area, a licensing officer said that, if just a few copies were available somewhere in the borough, he believed this satisfied the requirements of the law.

Since that time Rupa Huq MP raised the matter with the Home Office and the then Minister, Victoria Atkins, wrote to her saying that digital media should be used to advertise licensing applications when the local printed media was deficient.

During the pandemic advise has been issued by central government which explicitly recommends the use of online news portals in areas where printed newspapers are not being distributed to fulfil their legal obligation to publish statutory notices.

The current policy presents a risk that the first thing a resident may know about a change in the licenced hours of a nearby premises is when their sleep is disturbed due to extended opening times.

Additionally the system may work against the interest of applicants. A licensing agent who has represented restaurants making applications in the borough said, “The deficiencies in this policy work against my clients as well as residents. It risks setting them off on the wrong foot with neighbours who suspect them of being deliberately underhand, it exposes them to a risk of a legal challenge and, by giving a company a monopoly, means they are overcharged.”

The council say that the Statement of Licensing Policy 2020-25 is broadly similar to the existing policy, but it strengthens the link between licensing and other Council policies and provides additional information for applicants, residents and members about how the Licensing Act 2003 will be dealt with in Hounslow.

Changes include the introduction of ‘core hours’, (for new and variation licence applications only) outside of which the Council will normally expect to see additional controls and due diligence around issues such as noise nuisance, customer dispersal, littering and security.

Councillor Richard Foote, Chair of Licensing Committee at Hounslow Council said, "The draft policy seeks to provide clear guidance to both existing and new licensees about the council's approach to licensing and at the same time incorporates the relevant legislative changes since our last policy and introduces core hours for premises.

“In particular, we seek to balance the Borough’s desire to develop the variety and diversity of its licenced premises and to support the regeneration of our centres and neighbourhoods, whilst ensuring that we deliver on the Licensing Act 2003’s four ‘licensing objectives’. These place a duty on us to prevent crime, order and nuisance, protect public safety and ensure children do not come to harm. As chair of the Licensing Committee, I and my colleagues are keen to hear all views on this draft version so that we can create an even better final policy that serves the Borough well for the next five years."

If you believe these objectives could be better served by accepting applications which have been publicised on and then you should complete the questionnaire here.

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July 27, 2020

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