Report on the Licensing Bill

Session: Session currently unavailable

Date: 16 February 2016

Reference: NIA 296/11-16

ISBN: 978-1-78619-165-6

Mandate Number: 2011-16

Licensing Bill Report (378.97 kb)

Executive Summary and Recommendations

1. The Bill aims to establish outdoor stadia on the same footing as the SSE Arena – an indoor stadium – in respect of liquor licensing.

2. The Committee believes that the requirement for outdoor stadia, exemplified by the Kingspan Stadium, to make repeated applications for occasional licences was not consistent with the aim of the principal Order.

3. The Committee therefore accepts that the licensing arrangements that apply to the SSE Arena are applicable as a template for outdoor stadia.

4. The Committee therefore supports the Bill’s aim to introduce a new type of licence applicable to outdoor stadia as defined in the Bill.

5. The Committee acknowledges that the stadia business plans are likely to include the use of licensed areas for functions. The Committee noted that functions could only be held in those parts of the stadium that have been deemed suitable for functions.

6. Where there are applications for late licences these are restricted to 6 functions per year for the licence holder. The Committee also noted that an occasional licence allows a licensed area to open until 1am. The Committee was therefore content that the Bill is more restrictive in that regard than the current arrangements.

7. External bodies can also hold functions in a stadium, subject to agreement of the stadium management and in accordance with the principal Order, and also apply for a late licence if required. The Bill only allows for applications to be made for such extensions and, as with any application for an extension to a licence, objections can be lodged with the clerk of petty sessions. Where an objection is not withdrawn then under article 47(3) of the 1996 Order the application for the extension must be made to the court.

8. The Committee is therefore content that the Bill simply reflects the existing provisions in the principal Order and that there are sufficient checks and balances to ensure that applications for late licenses can be challenged and decided upon by the court.

9. In relation to allowing under-18s in licensed parts of a stadium after 9pm the Committee was content that clause 4 provides sufficient flexibility for conditions to be attached to a license if the PSNI have concerns.

10. The Committee also acknowledges that the three governing bodies of the sports in question are professionally managed organisations whose primary focus is on the promotion of their respective sport not the selling of alcohol, though the Committee also notes that sponsors of the two competitions Ulster Rugby participates in include drinks companies.

11. The Committee believes an anomaly in the principal Order in relation to Sunday opening can be addressed by a new clause which would bring consistency to licensing law in respect of places of public entertainment namely, licensed tracks.

12. The Committee notes the concerns of residents about antisocial behaviour fuelled by alcohol that can arise following a sport’s game. It therefore welcomes the establishment of a stadium community committee by Ulster Rugby to address these concerns.

13. The Committee therefore makes the following recommendations:

Recommendation 1

14. The Committee welcomes the assurance given by Ulster Rugby to establish a stadium community committee to discuss and address concerns of residents regarding the operation of the stadium and its impact on the local area.

The Committee recommends that all outdoor stadia, as defined in the Bill, that are located in residential areas, should establish a stadium community committee for this purpose. The Committee will be writing to the Ulster GAA and the IFA Stadium Development Company seeking assurances on this matter.

Recommendation 2

15. The Committee also agreed to recommend in its End-of-Mandate report that the Committee for Communities monitors progress on this issue over the course of the new Mandate.

Recommendation 3

16. It is clear to the Committee that reform of liquor licensing laws is long overdue. Legislation to address this should be introduced to the Assembly by the Minister for Communities in the new Mandate as a matter of priority.

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