It may not be very sexy but one of the important things the Council has responsibility for is licensing. Newham has a licensing panel made up of Councillors which meets to agree or refuse licensing applications, or call in for review a license where the license holder is working outside the agreed conditions.
Recently, Seyi, Rach and I have all taken trips to East Ham Town Hall to make representations to the licensing committee either speaking in favour or against licensing applications in the ward.
Earlier in the year Rachel spoke against an application for a stall outside a shop on Leytonstone Road – we have been trying to tidy up the area both physically and addressing anti-social behaviour and we felt the proposed changes weren’t in the best interest of other businesses, residents and the local environment.
I went to speak against an application for another premises on Leytonstone Road which wanted to increase the hours it could sell alcohol. We have been aware for a while of the street drinking that happens in the area and our enforcement team is working hard to tackle it but this was clearly another route to prevent the problem getting worse. Both applications were successfully refused.
Seyi went to support the Pizza Pyramid application (on Woodgrange Road) which hundreds of you emailed in support for (go you!). This building has an interesting licensing background (if you are into this kind of thing…). The premises has a long, chequered history with the police and the licensing team. The venue was run as a restaurant in the day and a nightclub in the evening, often in breach of license conditions and permitted hours.
As a result the licensing team used the range of tools within their power – eg. issuing noncompliance and S19 notices, and calling it in for review (which resulted in additional strong conditions and a reduction in hours being applied) and eventually the premises license was surrendered meaning no licensable activities could take place at the venue. However, the venue was still being used and as a result the police licensing team applied to the court for a closure order under a very new piece of legislation (S80 of the Anti Social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014, if you were wondering!). At the end of December the Court agreed with the police and Newham and issued a full closure notice.
After all of this hard work by our officers, it was a relief to hear in the spring that it was under new management and a pleasure to receive the new application and see it was intended for a much more community friendly use (unfortunately I have seen on Twitter that they are having some issues with the building and are unlikely to open, I do hope they, or someone else responsible will be back soon).
If you have managed to not get bored by now, I hope this post goes some way to highlight the importance of licensing and please do get in touch if you have any concerns about any applications in the future or if you believe a premises is not sticking to their licensing agreement. As you can see from the above three examples, we are keen to represent residents’ views through this forum so please don’t hesitate to get in touch.