I issued the following press release on 28.06.2006
TELL RESIDENTS ABOUT APPLICATIONS TO EXTEND ALCOHOL LICENSING HOURS SAYS MP
Following evidence of applications to apply for licensed premises and extend licensing hours being approved without proper scrutiny by local people, Lynne Jones, MP for Birmingham Selly Oak, has called on Birmingham City Council to improve the notification procedure.
The MP said "I have been concerned for some time about the adequacy of the notification procedure for licensing applications, which falls far short of the notification arrangements for planning applications."
Under the current procedures, applicants are required to display a notice prominently at or on the premises and to advertise their application in a local newspaper or newsletter. But if local people don't look out for these they can lose their chance to comment. This happened recently at a newsagents near Lynne's constituency office - as detailed in her enquiry to the Council. There is a particular problem with residents thinking that if they objected to an application in the past and it was refused, the same will happen if a similar application is resubmitted. Unfortunately this is not the case and objections need to be resubmitted.
These problems would not occur if procedures for notifying people about planning applications were replicated for licensing applications. When planning applications are lodged with the local authority, residents in the vicinity of application sites are notified in writing. Changes to the alcohol licensing notification procedure would simply require letters to be sent to local residents living near the applicants’ premises. Elected representatives - councillors and MPs - could be notified at the same time. Even though under the current legislation elected representatives’ views cannot be taken into account (unless they are directly affected), they are generally aware of local issues and can alert people who are less likely to respond unprompted to an application that may affect them without the help that elected representatives can give.
It is clear from a Parliamentary Answer to a question from the MP (see below) that there is no reason why this practice could not be introduced: Lynne Jones said today "I have the assurance of the Minister that nothing in the 2003 Act prevents licensing authorities from taking supplementary action to bring applications for an extension of licensing hours to the attention of elected representatives and affected residents" .
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Note to Editors: A copy of Lynne Jones' letter to the Head of Licensing is included below.
For further details please contact Lynne Jones on 0121 444 6277 or 0207 219 4190
LYNNE JONES MP
t: 020 7219 4190
f: 020 7219 3870
House of Commons
London, SW1A 0AA
Peter Barrow - Head of Licensing
Aston Cross Business Village
50 Rocky Lane
Birmingham B6 5RQ
20 June 2006
Our Ref. MF3124/002/MF
Dear Mr Barrow
Licensing Act 2003
I have recently been contacted by a constituent who has expressed some concerns with me regarding a successful application for the Grant of a Premises License at News Extra, 46 Watford Road. They have complained that, although a previous licence application was rejected last year after a petition from local residents, this year’s application was "rather less obvious" and "unless you were very eagle-eyed…we have missed the deadline to object".
I have been concerned for some time about the inadequacy of the notification procedure for licensing applications which fall far short of the notification arrangements for planning applications. I see no reason why similar arrangements should not be introduced for licensing applications. This would entail letters being sent not only to residents living nearby the applicants’ premises, but also elected representatives being notified. Even though under the current legislation elected representatives’ views cannot be taken into account (unless we are directly affected), we are generally aware of local issues and can alert people who are less likely to respond unprompted to an application that may affect them without the help that elected representatives can give.
According to a Parliamentary Answer I received last November and have re-printed below, there is no reason why this practice should not be introduced:
Lynne Jones: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport what her policy is on requirements for (a) elected representatives and (b) members of the public most affected by applications for an extension of licensing hours under the Licensing Act 2003 to be notified of such applications. 
James Purnell: Under the Licensing Act 2003 (Premises licences and club premises certificates) Regulations 2005 (No. 42), applicants are required to display a notice prominently at or on the premises and to advertise their application in a local newspaper or newsletter. The 2003 Act also requires that licensing authorities must place details of applications on its licensing register which must be available to the public. Nothing in the 2003 Act prevents licensing authorities from taking supplementary action to bring applications to the attention of elected representatives and members of the public who may be affected by applications for an extension of licensing hours but that is a matter for them to decide.
24 Nov 2005 : Column 2229W
My Department is committed to monitoring closely how the new regime operates and where the evidence suggests that the system could be more effective, it will consider revising the guidance.
I would therefore hope the Council could consider this matter with a view to adopting a more robust notification policy.
LYNNE JONES MP