Wednesday, 8 December 2010

MERA response to LBTH statement on Licensing Policy Consultation

This is MERA's response to Colin Perrin's response to our complaint about the lack of proper statutory consultation regarding the Council's Licensing Policy.

Thank you for your response - which is noted.  

We are not satisfied with your response.  Within the context of the formal complaint process, this complaint should now immediately move to the second stage.  

Reasons why this complaint should move to the second stage set out below.

1.  Consultation which fails to be meaningful is no consultation at all.  
  • Tower Hamlets Council has, on far too many occasions, completely failed to consult with all the residents associations in this borough.  It's not beyond the scope of other councils to do this efficiently and effectively, so we continue to wonder what exactly causes Tower Hamlets to fail to communicate effectively.  
  • Digital communication means that consultation with recognised community organisations can be done very quickly and at absolutely no cost to the Council
2.  The following statement in your response is challenged.
The current policy has underpinned the Council's Licensing regime very well without any challenge
There are very extensive records of challenges to that regime.

Just in relation to ONE EXAMPLE (ie the Broke Club on the corner of Mile End Road and Burdett Road - and its impact on neighbouring streets) numerous challenges were made to the licensing policy and the operation of the regime by:  
  • Mile End Residents Association - which has been very unhappy with the impact of the policy on the very extensive residential area close to the club. 
  • Other organisations in the area - (who would have made the same point about this consultation if they had ever been asked!)
  • The former Deputy Leader of the Council (Cllr Peck) - who was presumably still Deputy Leader at the point where presumably the decision on limiting the consultation was taken.  See below.  Cllr Peck was also very supportive of our efforts to have the licence for the new club refused - by reason of the very many representations made to him by his constituents as to the inappropriate location for a night club
  • Very many local residents acting independently
  • MERA also made extensive comments on the Core Strategy to the Planning Inspector on this matter and the unacceptable location of nightclubs in relation to residential areas.
Cllr Peck wrote to Julia Gregory as follows following the tweet about our blog post Consultation on LBTH Licensing Policy ignores residents associations
Not sure whether you have already covered this but I would say 'the Council deals with hundreds of complaints about licensed premises every year from residents whose lives are being made a misery. I would have thought the Council would have wanted to consult widely on its licensing policy and actively sought feedback from residents and residents' associations. It's a shame it hasn't'.
Cllr Joshua Peck | Bow West |
IN SUMMARY:  It's very clear to us that 
  • Officers have ignored representations made to the Council in the past three years about the nature and implementation of the Council's Licensing Policy
  • Absolutely no effort whatsoever was made to contact any of the organisations which have lobbied hard on licensing policy and its application in the past.  
  • The view expressed in relation to the lack of challenge to the Council's Licensing Policy also clearly contradicts views held by at least one leading councillor as well as a number of community organisations within the borough.
In our view this consultation process therefore amounts to MALADMINISTRATION.

We look forward to hearing as to how this complaint now proceeds under Stage 2 of the Council's Complaints Scheme

We are copying this letter to: Cllrs Peck and Saunders and Julia Gregory of the East London Advertiser


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