Green Party activists who help residents deal with alcohol licensing applications expressed disappointment at their concerns being dismissed.
Eamonn Ward, who had previously fed back to the Council that the public find the licensing process too confusing and frustrating, commented,
“The recent online meeting of the Licensing Committee underlined everything I raised in my submission to the Licensing consultation. I ended it with ‘I rarely engage and don’t encourage others to engage, as they will find the process confusing and meetings and decisions frustrating, leaving them wondering why they got involved in the first place.’”
The Committee declined to let the public ask questions.
Cllr Douglas Johnson, who is a member of the Licensing Committee, said,
“This is a major review of licensing policy. Businesses need to be clear about what the policy says, so that they know what to expect if they invest in a business and apply for a licence. Residents and the general public also need to have a clear statement of the Licensing Policy.”
“However, Officers asked us to approve policy changes without being able to explain what those changes were, or what they would mean in practice. This is not a way to make policy.”
“It soon became clear that many alterations would water down aspects of disability access, public health and city centre nuisance.”
The new policy:
- Scraps the acknowledgment that areas around West St and Division St (“areas nearing stress”) need special consideration because of problems of public nuisance, street drinking and disorder.
- Removes positive aspects of the policy relating to disability access and the local organisations that promote accessibility
- Rejects most of the requests from the public health and drug & alcohol teams, including on issues such as knife crime, the wellbeing of residents, and sexual harassment
- Drops references to continued partnership working with the licensed trade
Cllr Ruth Mersereau, who also sits on the Licensing Committee, said,
“This was a missed opportunity to draw up a clear, accessible, enforceable Licensing Policy that balances the safety and health of Sheffield residents with the needs of Sheffield’s hospitality businesses. There needs to be a complete review of the Council’s Licensing function.”
- Sheffield Green Party comments on the Licensing policy review are at: https://sheffieldgreenparty.org.uk/2020/07/23/greens-say-lamppost-licensing-fails-sheffield-taxpayers/
- Councillors Johnson and Mersereau voted against approving the new policy in its current form. However, it was approved by the majority of Labour and LibDem councillors. The draft policy is now due to be considered at Cabinet on 18th November 2020 and at full council on 2nd December. It must be passed by full council to be adopted.