Posted: Thursday, 22 October 2009 @ 13:54
Along with their New Year celebrations the trade can at last raise a glass to the fact that they will be able to submit most licensing applications and notifications on-line from 28 December.
This should have been possible from 2005 when the new licensing regime was introduced, as it would have saved a lot of hassle and a lot of money. Only now has the government been forced into the changes by Brussells through a European Directive which must be complied with by 28 December. Yes Brussels does get rid of some red tape!
As usual the government have left things until the very last moment, and the consultation period on some of the proposals does not end until 13 November. You have to feel sorry for the Licensing Authorities who will only have one month to get their act together.
The electronic system will apply to most licensing applications and notifications such as applications for and variations of Premises Licences, and Temporary Event Notices, but it will not be possible to apply on-line for Personal Licenses and renewal of Personal Licences, and reviews of Premises Licences. These will still have to be made in paper format.
The good news is that the government have seized the opportunity to sort out some of the red tape that made the process so tiresome and expensive. For example, with electronic applications only it will be the Licensing Authorities who will have to copy some appliactions to the Responsible Authorities such as the police, fire authority, planning, and trading standards. This will make life a lot easier and cheaper for the applicant. Also they have been forced to look at the requirement for plans. Can you imagine trying to send a 1:100 plan electronically? So they have abandoned a scale requirement, and will insist that the plan must only be "clear and legible in all respects". The other good news is that the relaxation on plans will also apply to paper applications.
So how will this work? A central information portal will be established on the business link website www.businesslink.gov It will go by the name of Electronic Application Facility (EAF). Dont these Whitehall bureaucrats just love fancy names! Licensing Authorities can opt to set up their own portals, in which case there will be a direct link to them from the EAF. Of course an important part of the system will be the ability to pay on-line, as no application can be accepted unless and until payment is made.
So watch this space for a further update, probably in about 6 weeks time. Dont hold your breath!
Licensing Law Specialist
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