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Part 8: Responsible authorities and interested parties definitions

  1. Introduction
  2. Responsible authorities
  3. Interested parties

Back To TopIntroduction

8.1 The Act sets out two categories of organisations and individuals that may feature in applications for and reviews of premises licences, responsible authorities and interested parties.

Back To TopResponsible authorities

8.2 Responsible authorities are public bodies that must be notified of applications and that are entitled to make representations to the licensing authority in relation to applications for, and in relation to, premises licences.

8.3 S.157 of the Act identifies the bodies that are to be treated as responsible authorities. They are:

  • (a) a licensing authority in England and Wales in whose area the premises is wholly or partly situated
  • (b) the Gambling Commission
  • (c) the chief officer of police or chief constable for the area in which the premises is wholly or partially situated
  • (d) the fire and rescue authority for the same area
  • (e) in England and Wales, the local planning authority, or in Scotland, the planning authority
  • (f) the relevant authority as defined in s.6 of the Fire (Scotland) Act 2005
  • (g) an authority which has functions in relation to pollution to the environment or harm to human health
  • (h) anybody, designated in writing by the licensing authority, as competent to advise about the protection of children from harm
  • (i) HM Revenue & Customs
  • (j) any other person prescribed in regulations by the Secretary of State.

8.4 S.211(4) of the Act provides that in relation to a vessel, but no other premises, responsible authorities also include navigation authorities, within the meaning of s.221(1) of the Water Resources Act 1991, that have statutory functions in relation to the waters where the vessel is usually moored or berthed, or any waters where it is proposed to be navigated at a time when it is used for licensable activities. This would include:

  • (a) the Environment Agency in England and Wales or the Scottish Environment Protection Agency in Scotland
  • (b) the British Waterways Board
  • (c) the Secretary of State. In practice, this would be the Secretary of State for Transport who acts through the Maritime and Coastguard Agency.

8.5 The Act includes a wide range of responsible authorities to ensure that all relevant regulatory bodies and organisations are made aware of applications for gambling premises licences or other permissions. Equally, a policy of wide dissemination of applications allows responsible authorities to take action under their own legislation and enforcement powers, even if there is no direct role for them in the premises licensing process for gambling.

8.6 The Act contains no obligation on responsible authorities to respond to applications for premises licences. For example, the Commission does not routinely make representations on premises licence applications, although this should not be taken as indicating the Commission’s approval of a particular application. Exceptionally, where an application for a premises licence or the operation of a current premises licence raises matters of wider or national significance, the Commission will consider making representations or requesting a review. The Commission may also comment on an application if it has particular observations about an operator.

8.7 Licensing authorities are required to set out their approach to their functions under the Act in their policy statement. One of those functions is to determine who will be competent to advise them about the protection of children from harm and the principles for determining this must be set out in a separate section in their policy statement. Licensing authorities should engage fully with the relevant designated body and consult with them on the development of the policy statement. Further detail can be found in Part 6 at paragraph 6.15 onwards.

8.8 The Secretary of State and Scottish Ministers may prescribe other responsible authorities by means of regulations. For example, Scottish Ministers have prescribed that a responsible authority under the Act includes an enforcing authority under the Fire (Scotland) Act 2005.

Back To TopInterested parties

8.9 S.158 of the Act defines interested parties. To accept a representation from an interested party, the licensing authority must take the view that the person:

  • lives sufficiently close to the premises to be likely to be affected by the authorised activities
  • has business interests that might be affected by the authorised activities
  • represents persons in either of these two groups. Licensing authorities will need to have regard to anything an interested party says about their status to make representations.

8.10 The approach taken by licensing authorities in determining who is an interested party should be dealt with in their policy statement. As with responsible authorities, regulations require this information to be in a separate section of the policy statement, as outlined in Part 6 at paragraph 6.18 onwards.

8.11 The following gives further advice on how licensing authorities can determine whether someone is an interested party.

People living close to the premises

8.12 There are a number of factors that licensing authorities should take into account when determining whether a person ‘lives sufficiently close to the premises’. These might include:

  • the size of the premises
  • the nature of the premises
  • the distance of the premises from the location of the person making the representation
  • the potential impact of the premises such as the number of customers, routes likely to be taken by those visiting the establishment
  • the circumstances of the person who lives close to the premises. This is not their personal characteristics, but their interests which may be relevant to the distance from the premises.

8.13 Relevant factors will depend on the particular application. For example, it is reasonable for a licensing authority to consider that living sufficiently close to premises to likely be affected could have a different meaning for (a) a private resident, (b) a residential school for children with truanting problems and (c) a residential hostel for vulnerable adults.

The nature and scope of business interests that could be affected

8.14 It could be argued that any gambling business could be affected by another gambling business expanding into any part of Great Britain. But that is unlikely to be enough to satisfy the test of being ‘a person with business interests that might be affected by the premises’ under consideration. For example, an operator in a particular sector be it casino, bingo, betting etc, should not be able to lodge representations on every application put in by a rival operator anywhere in the country, simply because they are in competition within the same gambling sector. Specifically, licensing authorities are reminded that the ‘demand test’ from previous gambling legislation does not apply under the Act.

8.15 The licensing authority should be satisfied that the relevant business is likely to be affected. Factors that are likely to be relevant include:

  • the size of the premises
  • the ‘catchment’ area of the premises, that is, how far people travel to visit the premises
  • whether the person making the representation has business interests in that catchment area that might be affected.

People representing those in the above categories

8.16 Interested parties can be people who are democratically elected such as councillors and MPs, as persons representing individuals in the other categories. This would include county, parish and town councillors. Other representatives might include bodies such as trade associations and trade unions, and residents’ and tenants’ associations. A school head or governor might act in representing the interests of pupils or parents and a community group might represent vulnerable people living near to the proposed premises.

8.17 Save for democratically elected persons, licensing authorities should satisfy themselves on a case by case basis that a person does represent interested parties, and request written evidence where necessary. A letter from the interested person(s) they are representing would be sufficient.