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Agenda item

Probity in Licensing Protocol and Licensing Sub-Committee Rules of Procedure

To consider the Probity in Licensing and Licensing Sub-Committee Rules of Procedure as set out in the appendices to the report and to recommend accordingly.

Minutes:

The report asked Members to consider the Probity in Licensing Protocol and the Licensing Sub-Committee Rules of Procedure, as set out in the appendices and recommend accordingly.

 

The Head of Legal Services advised Members that the Probity in Licensing Protocol [the Protocol] supplemented the requirements of the [Member] Code of Conduct adopted by the GAC on 16 July 2012 [Min.No.35]. Specifically, the Protocol was intended to:-

 

(i)            assist Members in taking licensing decisions openly, with sound judgement and reasons;

 

(ii)          advise on predetermination, bias and interests (disclosable pecuniary interests and prejudicial interests);

 

(iii)         refer to the relevant provisions of the [Member] Code of Conduct and provide a number of guiding principles to assist Members to comply with the Code.

 

However, Members were also advised that no set of principles or guidance was a substitute for the use of common sense when addressing licensing matters.

 

The Head of Legal Services reminded the Committee that under the new Code, Members no longer had the right to speak as a member of the public in support of an application from their Ward, being considered by a Licensing Sub-Committee. This had been permitted under the old arrangements, even when a Member held a prejudicial interest. The Head of Legal Services confirmed that provided a Committee member did not have a disclosable pecuniary or prejudicial interest; he/she was able to sit on a Licensing Sub-Committee considering an application in their Ward, as Ward members have the necessary local knowledge, can ask questions and establish facts. [The position of non-Licensing Committee Members who wish to support applications in their Wards was addressed in detail under para. 6.2 (b) of the Protocol – agenda page 16 and in the subsequent training session].

 

In brief subsequent discussion, it was agreed that the Head of Legal Services would address any specific questions Members had concerning theoretical examples of potential bias (including public perception of potential bias) and predetermination, as part of the ‘Probity in Licensing Protocol’ training session immediately following the meeting that evening.

 

The Head of Legal Services advised that the ‘Licensing Sub-Committee Rules of Procedure’ were presented to the Committee that evening for formal adoption. She confirmed that the Sub-Committee(s) had been following the revised Rules in the intervening period since the new legislation was brought into effect [Licensing Act 2003 (Premises licences and club premises certificates) (Amendment) Regulations 2012].

 

 

                        RESOLVED:

 

1.    That the Probity in Licensing Protocol attached as Appendix A to the report be adopted by the Committee and referred to the next meeting of the Audit Board as the body which oversees compliance with the [Member] Code of Conduct;

 

2.    That the Licensing Sub-Committee Rules of Procedure attached as Appendix B to the report be formally adopted by the Committee.

 

 

 Member Training

 

Following consideration of the published agenda items, Committee members present received a training session from the Head of Legal Services on the newly adopted ‘Probity in Licensing Protocol’ and received guidance material covering:-

 

·         Predetermination and Bias [Common Law aspects and case law]

·         Predisposition

·         Predetermination and Bias and the [Member] Code of Conduct

·         Section 25 Localism Act 2011

 

In addition to working through the guidance material with Members, the Head of Legal Services considered differing theoretical examples of licensing applications raised by the Committee, referring to the relevant sections of the Protocol as appropriate.

 

The Chairman thanked the Head of Legal Services for her comprehensive presentation and reminded Committee members of the advice contained in the final sentence of Mrs Kelly-Stone’s covering report [paragraph 3.5 (b)] that ‘no set of principles or guidance is a substitute for common sense’ when dealing with licensing applications. He also confirmed, in response to a specific question, that only Committee members who had attended training that evening would be asked to sit on Licensing Sub-Committees.

 

The Head of Legal Services confirmed that Member Services would be arranging further training sessions in the New Year for Committee members unable to attend that evening and that she would update Committee members on future developments in Case Law following court determinations.

Supporting documents: