The Bolton "Statement of Intent"
Clubs in Bolton have been asked to sign a Statement of Intent issued by the Bolton Police Licensing Unit. This document has been issued to all clubs and pubs in the Bolton District.
The Statement of Intent repeats the four licensing objectives, as set out in the Licensing Act 2003, which are:
- The prevention of crime and disorder
- Public safety
- The prevention of public nuisance
- The protection of children from harm
These objectives are already part of the operating plan of every Club Premises Certificate (CPC). The ACC is not concerned with how Bolton Police and Bolton Licensing Authority deal with licensed premises/bars and nightclubs. We recognise that dealing with violence, disturbance and other crimes caused by drunkenness is a difficult task.
However, we are concerned that Private Members’ Clubs operating under CPCs have been asked to sign a Statement, which implies a form of contract, which places an additional burden of unnecessary requirements on Clubs such as regular collection of glasses and bottles; staff training for vigilance of suspicious behaviour and drunkenness; for all door staff to be registered with the Security Industry Authority (SIA) to adopt Challenge 21, which requires any person who appears to be under 21 years of age to provide identification of their age - and the list goes on.
The statement includes the following paragraphs which, I think, would cause most Club Committees serious concerns:
"Premises which fail in these areas, will come under scrutiny, and will be monitored in these areas, with meetings conducted to improve performance in these areas, to the satisfaction of the Police and Licensing Authority.
"This of course does not take away the sanction of licence reviews and ultimately licence revocation in cases of poor management?"
I have no objection to the Challenge 21. I understand that in some parts of the Licensed Industry, it has become a useful method of preventing under age sales. I have no objection to door control employees in night clubs and town centre bars being SIA registered, indeed it is sensible that they are.
However, I object that private Members’ Clubs are being dumped into the same category as all other licensed establishments and are being asked to sign a Statement that has no reference to the Licensing Act.
Clubs are required to manage their affairs in accordance with their rules and are already subject to the terms of their CPCs. If a Club was presented with a statement which was specific to a Private Members’ Club and did not contain any implied threat, then I have no doubt that it would be agreed.
Ultimately, however the only obligation on Club Committees is to comply with the Licensing Act and the conditions of their Club’s CPC.
It is, I believe, worth repeating the statement made in the Guidance Notes on the Licensing Act 2003, as approved by Parliament:
“The Secretary of State wishes to emphasise that non-profit making clubs make an important contribution to the life of many communities in England and Wales and bring significant benefits.
Their activities also take place on premises to which the public do not generally have access and they operate under codes of discipline applying to members and their guests.
“In determining what conditions should be included in certificates Licensing Authorities should bear these matters in mind and when considering representations from responsible Authorities and interested parties, they should bear in mind that conditions should not be attached to certificates unless they can be demonstrated to be strictly necessary.
“The indirect costs of conditions will be borne by individual members of the club and cannot be recovered by passing on these costs to the general public as would be the case for commercial enterprises or where a club has chosen to carry on the licensable activities at their premises for the public under the authority of a premises licence. "
If your club receives a “Statement of Intent" from your local Licensing Authority or Police, I would advise that it is referred to this Association before being signed.
In the meantime, I intend to raise this matter with the DCMS to ask whether the Secretary of State continues to stand by the statement printed above.