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January 2007

Smoking Ban Appoaches and Other Dates for Your Diary

Most Club Secretaries will be aware that Patricia Hewitt has announced that the Smoking Ban in all public enclosed spaces, including Private Members' Clubs, will come into effect in England on 1st July 2007. The date for the Smoking Ban to be introduced in Wales has already been
announced by the Welsh Assembly as 2nd April 2007.

Regular readers of the Magazine will be aware of the fact that the Association of Conservative Clubs opposed this ban being imposed on Private Members' Clubs. The Labour Party abandoned an Election Manifesto Commitment to exclude clubs and pubs which did not serve food from any proposed ban, although for some time many media sources have continued to report, incorrectly, that such clubs and pubs would be exempt.

The position adopted by the A.C.C. was based on our belief that Private Members' Clubs should be able to enjoy existing rights practised under freedom of association. I am afraid, however, that this argument was not particularly fashionable and did not attract sufficient support
either in the Commons or the Lords and, as such, this ban will be fully effective in clubs in the same way that it is in public houses. We have advised clubs that it is sensible to be as prepared as possible for the implementation of this ban and that if a club is able to provide outside smoking facilities then it should be developing this well in advance of the ban coming into force. The A.C.C. is pleased to recommend the services and products of Smoking Canopies Ltd. This Company advertises regularly in our Magazine and has sent literature to individual clubs.

The data from Southern Ireland and Scotland where bans have already been in force is interesting but does not, in my opinion, give a complete view of how this Ban will affect England and Wales. The fact is the club culture in Southern Ireland and Scotland is not the same as that which exists in England and Wales. We should be under no illusion that there are many clubs which will suffer a dramatic downturn in bar trade as a direct
result of this ban being introduced. The extent of this impact in England and Wales will be different from that already experienced in Southern Ireland and Scotland but it is not possible at this stage to make absolute predictions.

 

Other Dates

In addition to the above dates, most Club Secretaries will have in their minds - and hopefully in their diaries - the dates by which certain returns and applications will have to be made. I hope the following check list will assist Clubs in carrying out this useful exercise.

Club Premises Certificate All Clubs are now in possession of a Club Premises Certificate granted under the Licensing Act 2003. Whilst there is no specific renewal date of a Club Premises Certificate in the same way as the previous Registration Certificates, it is necessary for an annual fee to be paid to the local Licensing Authority in order for the Club Premises Certificate to remain in force. Therefore, look out for any renewal invoice received from your local Licensing Authority and ensure that it is paid promptly.

We are continuing our quest for there to be a unilateral renewal date which coincides with the anniversary of the Licensing Act coming into force. However, it appears that the Minister for Licensing finds this a difficult concept to understand. We shall keep trying!

 

Performing Right Society & Phonographic Performances Ltd

The PRS and PPL Licences need to be renewed each year. These Licences cover different types of copyright payable for playing any type of music within the Club.

There are two types of licence required to be paid to the PPL depending on whether the Club plays background music or uses recorded music at a dance or discotheque or similar function. In the case of the latter, the fee is on a sliding scale basis.

In January, fees are payable to the PRS. These payments are fixed under an Agreement with the PRS and the appropriate fee for a Club is calculated according to the type of music used. There is often confusion between the licences of the PPL and PRS but, as a general rule, if a Club has music it must have both of these respective licenses.

 

Gaming Machines

In order for Clubs to operate Gaming Machines, a Registration Certificate issued under Part III of the Gaming Act 1968 must be obtained from the
Magistrates' Courts. It should be noted that this Certificate is completely separate and distinct from Licence Duty which is also required to operate Gaming Machines.

Registration under this Act actually began in 1970 and a Gaming Machine Registration Certificate, when issued or renewed, runs for five years.

Consequently, for most Clubs, this will not be a year in which renewal is required. Nevertheless, it is essential that this Certificate is checked since Magistrates do not issue reminders.

Clubs will be aware that the Gambling Act is due to come into force later this year and the introduction of this Act will move responsibility for issuing operating permits to Local Authorities. Magistrates' Courts will no longer be involved. It is not yet known for certain whether there will be a single date on which holders of a Gaming Machine Registration Certificate will need to transfer to a permit authorising the operation of Gaming Machines or whether the need to apply for such a permit will coincide with the renewal date of an existing Registration Certificate.

Further details concerning the new Gambling Act will be published in a future edition of the Magazine.

 

Audits

Clubs registered under the Industrial & Provident Societies Act or the Friendly Societies Acts must submit an annual return to the Financial Services Authority no later than the date required under the terms of the Club's particular Rules. Failure to comply may result in prosecution. Such Clubs must also ensure the annual fee is paid, the amount of which depends upon the Club's assets.

Clubs which are incorporated as companies must ensure that their company returns are made to Companies House by the agreed submission date in order to avoid fines and must also ensure that their Accounts are filed. Unincorporate Members' Clubs are not required to submit annual returns or to file accounts with any outside body.

In addition to the above, please make a note of the date for VAT returns, insurance renewal and the Club's TV licence.