The LGA has issued guidance on managing licensing and related issues during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The note provides a summary of issues councils’ licensing teams and others have raised with the Local Government Association (LGA) and outlines how these could be managed based on a set of key principles and examples of what councils have already advised us they are doing in response.
The note cover topics such as:
- Licence fees
- Licensing procedures, administrative issues and hearings
- Dealing with non-compliance
- Street trading
The intention is to promote consistent approaches by licensing authorities but it does not consititute legal advice. The LGA point out that each council need to assure itself of the approach it takes, “balancing the desire to support local businesses, the objectives of relevant legislation and the council’s capacity.”
The note suggests the following principals may be useful:
- Ensuring that there is open and honest engagement with local businesses (in some cases it may be preferable to engage directly rather than through third parties) about the challenges facing both licensed businesses and councils during the COVID-19 response.
- Being as flexible as possible while remaining mindful of the requirements and objectives of relevant legislation.
- Where possible, prioritising requests, applications or hearings that are business critical in terms of the COVID-19 response and potentially deferring those which may not need an urgent response if there are valid reasons why they cannot feasibly go ahead. Each case should be considered on its own merits in discussion with applicants and notes taken outlining the justification for why a decision was reached.
- Planning now for how licensing can quickly scale up work that for legitimate reasons has not been able to be progressed due to COVID-19 issues, eg preparing for additional hearings as a contingency measure.
The note also refers to the IoL's Protocol (update 2) which is designed to inform and assist licensing authorities and operators in managing and using the licensing system effectively and fairly during this emergency period.