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How to make a representation

If you have heard about a licensing application in your neighbourhood and you wish to object to or comment on the proposed changes, you are entitled to make a representation about it – usually known as ‘objecting’.

You do this by writing a letter to the Licensing Service at Westminster City Council. We at the Licensing Advice Project can help you write this letter, and with the rest of the process involved in making a representation. Please telephone 020 7706 6029 or email: licensing@westminstercab.org.uk for more details.

If you wish to write a letter yourself, please read the following. If you would like the licensing adviser to read your letter before you submit it to Westminster City Council and ensure that you have covered everything you need to, or to advise you on jargon or evidence and technical points please contact us and we will be happy to assist.

In your letter you should make sure that you include the following information:-

1. The name of the premises, and if possible the reference number of the application
2. Your address and where you live in relation to the premises (e.g. “I live directly opposite the pub”) The objection must be in writing (it can be by email) and you must give your name and full postal address. There is no express provision in the Licensing Act for representations to be anonymous, but it may be permitted in certain circumstances. There is also an online form on the Council’s website.
3. That you wish to make a representation
4. The ground(s) you are relying on (see below)
5. The City Council is required to send copies of objections to the Applicant

It is always a good idea to have a look at a copy of the application form submitted by the premises, which is available either directly from Westminster City Council (tel. 020 7641 8549) or online at www.westminster.gov.uk. In the application form you will find specific details of what the applicant intends to apply for and what measures they intend to take to minimise nuisance and other problems (referred to as ‘conditions’, which can be attached to a licence granted). It may be that conditions have been proposed which would alleviate concerns.

The aim of making a representation is to describe how your life will be affected and why you are against the application. You must give reasons for your objection, and you must make sure that you base your representation on at least one of the ‘likely effect’ of a grant of the application on the promotion of the ‘licensing objectives’. You will be trying to demonstrate that a grant of the application (at least in the terms requested) is not ‘appropriate’ for the promotion of the licensing objectives, which are:

a) Prevention of Public Nuisance. The most commonly used reason for making a representation is Public Nuisance, with most residents complaining that there is already a noise nuisance from a premises while it is open, and that if the premises were allowed to stay open any longer, this would go on until an unacceptably late time. Noise at and after closing time is also a public nuisance problem, as is litter, for example.

b) Prevention of Crime and Disorder – e.g. fighting, drug problems, disorder etc. You should state what the problems are and whether the police were involved (if you know). You should describe how often problems occur and whether these problems are ongoing.

c) Protection of Children from harm – this is rarely used but if you believe that, for example, under-age drinkers are being served there, or if there are other child protection issues then you should set out why children are at risk of being harmed.

d) Public Safety – if you believe that a pub is over-crowded, for example, or crowds of drinkers outside force pedestrians to walk in the road, or if you believe that there is any other risk to public safety, you should describe the problem in your letter.

Specific issues to address

It is important to deal with each aspect of the application that you object to. The most common issues that you will need to address in your representation are usually:-

Sale of alcohol – if you believe that the sale of alcohol at the times specified would cause problems, you should explain why you believe so.

Opening and closing times – this is often the most important issue for residents, as this is when the premises’ customers will be passing through the neighbourhood. You should describe any nuisance caused by customers when they are arriving at or leaving the premises, and how long the disturbance goes on for, or what you think will happen if later hours are granted. Opening hours are not actually ‘licensable activities’ but can be taken into account when assessing the overall impact of the proposed licence on the licensing objectives, and can be controlled by conditions.

“Regulated entertainment” – this term covers showing films, playing music in certain circumstances, dancing, indoor sports and so on. Where a premises has applied to play amplified music, karaoke or other “regulated entertainment” and you think that the noise will disturb you, you should address this in your representation. Please note that in certain circumstances, live music is no longer licensable, although there are remedies for residents if live music is causing a noise nuisance – contact us for more information.

It is important that you give details of any noise problems you currently suffer (e.g. loud music etc from inside the pub). Obviously this will not be possible where an entirely new licence is applied for.

If the premises does not have sound-proofing or noise-limiting devices, you should point this out. If the premises is in an old building, you can point out that it was not designed to contain modern levels of sound and vibration, and that the noise will inevitably escape from the premises and affect you.

If you are already taking measures such as keeping windows closed, wearing earplugs, turning your television up, then you should outline them in your representation letter. If litter, urination and bottles being left around make your neighbourhood look unpleasant, and makes it less pleasant to live there, you should state this. If you are kept awake by noise from a pub, for example, you should describe the noise you can hear, how loud it is, how often you are disturbed and what the effect is on you, for example disturbed sleep, lack of peace and quiet, or perhaps you have to keep your windows shut in summer and so on. If you or anyone else has called the Noise Team, you should give details of when they were called. If you have complained to the management or staff at the premises, you should also give details.

If you have kept a journal or other record, you can attach a copy to your representation. Photographs, video and sound recordings can also be included, and can be very useful in showing exactly what the problem is.

Too much information?

Overall, the main thing to bear in mind when you are writing your letter is that although it may seem obvious to you what sort of problems the licence will cause, the Councillors who decide whether to grant the licence need to have details of the problems you are experiencing now, or what problems you believe will occur in the future

Free advice and assistance for all Westminster Residents

The above is general information only, and it is best to seek more detailed advice on your specific case. Please call 020 7706 6029 for more information, or email licensing@westminstercab.org.uk