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Licensing Act 2003: Communities and Local Planning Policy

Volume 662: debated on Monday 17 June 2019

8. If he will discuss with the Home Secretary the effect on (a) communities and (b) local planning policy of the operation of the Licensing Act 2003. (911359)

I am in daily receipt of advice from colleagues from across the Government—indeed, from across the House, local government and the nation—on the efficient and effective operation of the planning system.

Will the Government agree to change licensing laws to give local councils the authority to issue licences—for example, to events in their area—only if the applicant agrees to use recyclable or biodegradable plastics?

The hon. Gentleman, typically, raises an extremely important issue. As he will know, the proliferation of single-use plastics—or, indeed, the restriction thereof—is a matter for the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs. We have made other progress, on top of the ban of microbeads, with the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs having recently announced the ban on the distribution or sale of plastic straws and stirrers and plastic-stem cotton buds. The hon. Gentleman nevertheless raises an interesting point, particularly in respect of events, that we will ponder further.

More and more licensed premises are being granted extended opening hours, even when it has hugely negative consequences for local residents. Councils report that trying to stop there being too many licensed premised in an area through the use of cumulative impact assessments is too slow, burdensome and costly, as well as being ineffective. Will the Minister agree to work with his colleagues to amend the Licensing Act 2003 to ensure that there is a much greater community voice in licensing and greater alignment with planning policy?

The hon. Lady addresses a significant issue that I had to address regularly in my previous life as deputy Mayor for policing in London. I recognise the impact that the proliferation of licensed premises in a particular area can have, not only on the community but on crime generally. It is incumbent on local authorities to have an authoritative and assertive licensing policy that sits alongside their local plan and planning policy, such that they can defend their policies in court or under judicial review, if that is the case. If the hon. Lady is concerned that that is not happening in particular authorities, I am more than happy to look into them and offer advice, where possible.