Council set to turn down extra powers in licensing due to a ‘lack of evidence’

West Street.
West Street.

Councillors are set to turn down extra powers that would allow them to block plans for off-licences in Boston if it was felt the amount already there was causing issues in terms of crime and disorder.

Boston Borough Council’s licensing committee, will hear a report on the idea of a ‘Cumulative Impact Policy’ (CIP) which will cite a lack of evidence of ‘serious problems of nuisance or crime and disorder’ as the reason for the recommendation

A CIP can be implemented in a local authorities licencing arrangements where there is substantial evidence demonstrating that ‘there are a significant number or type of licensed premises concentrated in one area and serious problems of nuisance or crime and disorder are occurring or beginning to occur outside those premises’.

The policy will allow those looking at licensing premises to see if the number of off-licenses already in an area is impacting on preventing crime and disorder and public nuisance, public safety or the protection of children from harm.

However, a report to councillors, will say that Lincolnshire Police, Environmental Health, Community Safety, Trading Standards and Public Health were unable to supply evidence to connect alcohol related incidents with the number or density of off-licences in Boston.

It recommends not implementing the CIP into their Licencing Policy as it ‘is not considered appropriate at this time’ due to ‘insufficient evidence’ present to justify its adoption.

This, the report says, means that: “The adoption of a CIP without sufficient evidence to support its introduction would be at risk of a successful challenge through the judicial review process.”

It adds that, unless it could stand up to challenge, any appeal is ‘highly likely to fail with a cost order being issued in favour of the appellant’.

It will tell councillors that police and the borough council expect the Public Spaces Protection Order which has been introduced in the town will be a ‘positive action’ on ‘reducing alcohol-related anti-social behaviour and concern for safety incidents’.

It will say a conference call to the Government’s Home Office did not make recommendations in support of introducing the CIP.

The report will also say to councillors that they would need to identify funding for the CIP if they were to implement it in their Licencing Policy at a cost of £2,000 per annum.

It will also warn of the need to differentiate between objections over the ‘need’ of a licenced premise (something the committee has no control over) and objections to the cumulative impact of such businesses.

The meeting is set to take place at Boston Borough Council’s offices on West Street, at 2pm, on Tuesday. The full report can be found on the council’s website.