The Licensing Sub-Committee monitors applications for new and modified licences within Marylebone. We negotiate with local businesses to reduce their impact on local residents. These may include the actual licensing hours, the management of people outside the premises, or lessening the impact by asking for various other conditions to be imposed, such as servicing times. We also rely on your feedback and emails to alert us to any licensing issues you may have.
Although we do not suffer the same pressure as our colleagues south of Oxford Street, there is nevertheless an increasing trend towards later licensing hours and larger premises. This, with the noise that it often brings during normal licensed hours, or later in the night when customers are leaving, or from deliveries and collections, has the potential to cause serious disturbance to residents, particularly over the summer period.
Whilst there are remedies such as contacting the Noise Team, and they do have a 24 hour helpline, it is obviously preferable to deal with these matters at the time of the licensing application rather than having to file a series of complaints once the nuisance is actually experienced.
The Edgware Road area probably experiences most licensing issues and it is one of the three areas in Westminster, and the only one in Marylebone, identified by the Council and the Police as a ‘Stress Area’. This means that it is much harder to obtain a new licence here to serve alcohol, although this does not apply to restaurants. We also find many complaints generated by Shisha smoking cafés. As Shisha smoking does not require a licence it makes enforcement regarding noise issues more difficult. The same principle applies - if the activity generates a nuisance, a complaint can then be made to the Council and this will be passed on to the enforcement team. Shisha smoking carries the same restrictions as any other smoking activity and enforcement action will be taken where such a breach is evidenced.
In the longer term the only satisfactory answer will be to make Shisha smoking a licensable activity and we have made this representation to the Council on a number of occasions. We have responded to a recent Westminster consultation repeating that effective enforcement of Shisha smoking can only take place once it is made subject to obtaining a licence. This would need an Act of Parliament and Westminster Council, in conjunction with other affected areas, will need to actively lobby for this. We understand that the Council intends to do so.
We are concerned about the threat of later licensing hours from the proposed extension of parts of the tube to 24 hour service. Implementation of the service is probably only a matter of time and when it happens no doubt licencees will be citing it as a ground to apply for future licence extensions, on the basis of an unmet need. This will be something that we will need to oppose.