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To give consideration to a report about the proceedings of the Licensing Committee and its Sub-Committees when discharging the Authority’s licensing functions under the Licensing Act 2003 and in particular whether or not remote (virtual) licensing hearings should continue to be held when it is considered appropriate to do so.
Consideration was given to a report on the operation of the Committee and its Sub-committees for the remainder of the municipal year.
It was explained that proceedings of the Committee were governed by the Licensing Act 2003 (The Act) and the Licensing Act 2003 (Hearings) Regulations 2005 (Regulations). Regulation 21 of the Regulations enabled the Committee to determine the procedure to be followed at licensing hearings.
Over the past year meetings of the Licensing Committee and the Licensing Sub-committee had been held virtually as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic. These meetings had been live streamed on the Authority’s YouTube channel so that the press and public could observe proceedings. Although there had been several technical issues at the start of the process these had now been resolved and the Authority had successfully held a number of licensing hearings since May 2020. A copy of the procedure used for virtual meetings was set out for members’ information.
Members noted that the current advice was to minimise the number of face to face meetings where possible and it was suggested that virtual meetings could be more convenient for elected members as they could participate in a hearing wherever they were and this would save travel to Quadrant. It was also suggested that it was safer and more convenient for members of the public as they could observe proceedings without the need of having to travel to Quadrant.
A number of members considered that, in line with other meetings of the Authority, meetings of the Licensing Committee and its Sub-committees should revert to face to face meetings.
It was also noted that in order to comply with equalities legislation the Committee needed to have flexibility to make alternative arrangements where necessary to take account of individual needs. It was also suggested that any decision taken could be subject to review by the Committee at a future meeting at the appropriate time.
Resolved that (1) where considered appropriate future meetings of the Licensing Committee and Sub-committee be held remotely until April 2022;
(2) the procedure as used for meetings over the past year continue to be used for future remote meetings; and
(3) a report be presented to a future meeting of the Committee on the continuation of remote meetings or not.