The Licensing Officer introduced the report and summarised it for the Committee.
The following was noted from the discussion arose:
· Cllr Combley asked officers to confirm that the Licensing Act 2003 permitted any venue to stage events with sexual entertainment content? That the current policy had designated 3 areas appropriate for SEVs.
· Officers confirmed that licensed venues are able to hold 11 events per year and this cannot be restricted under the Authority’s policy.
· The policy is unable to designate the city-wide as a locality; each application must be assessed as to appropriateness within the locality it will operate.
· Cllr Hance noted that a theme of the public forum was the loss of employment should the existing venues close, asked if this could be considered.
· Officers advised that although employment was not a consideration for the committee, they still had to be mindful of the public sector equality duty and the impact on specific persons who fall within the scope of the duty.
· The trajectory of the policy development; 12 week consultation process; the result from the consultation to be presented to the working group; the final policy would be returned to committee for decision on implementation; at that time all evidence would be presented.
· Cllr Eddy confirmed that he had been involved in the working group and that nothing he has heard has changed his position on opposing a nil cap. He urged members not to make a moral decision; that they should view the evidence submitted by the police that failed to provide evidence that supported a link between crime stats and SEV; that there is more evidence of crime arising from local drinking establishments; that he took the view that the existing clubs were well run and operated within the regulations; that no evidence was presented to support adopting a nil cap; that his real concern that a nil cap would push activity underground outside strict regulations; that to consider this at the same time that clubs were recovering from the impact of restrictions on trade during the pandemic was inappropriate; that he did not support the proposed change and took the view the current cap should be kept.
· Cllr Goggin asked if the consultation would be limited to Bristol; how would multiple replies from an individual be avoided; what details of consultees are collected.
· Officers advised that the consultation was not limited to Bristol; participants were asked for their postcode; that digital technology allowed for identifying any anomalies; that to encourage as wide as possible participation, name and address details were not requested; this insured the consultation was anonymous and avoided possible data breach.
· Cllr Clough expressed her view that crime data showed that night clubs posed a greater issue than the current SEV clubs; that the decision was being made on a moral bias and not practical issues and information presented
· Cllr Hickman that the issue of harassment and homicide of women existed and there was no evidence that the current clubs were linked but took the view that violence against women happened; that a future discussion should take place on reemployment of working in these venues.
· Cllr Massey shared that as a member of the committee who had sat and heard presentations from SEVs when they made their annual applications which included site visits, she had gained helpful insight to there operation; that she had concerns about unlicensed activities taking place if the venues no longer operated.
· Cllr Fi Hance had concerns that any decision would give rise to complex legal dispute.
· Cllr Davies asked for clarification on what was being asked of committee; what would be the position if committee resolved not to consult on the rewritten policy; would matters remain as it is.
· Officers advised that there was no final decision to be made on SEVs; that officers recommendation, outlined in the report, was for the revised policy to go to out for consultation; if members were unable to support this the Chair would be asked to give direction on future activities of the working group.
· Cllr Windows also expressed his confusion as to what was being asked of committee; he held the view that the issue had gone on longer than necessary; that this was a further consultation following on from the last; viewed that the removal of regulated SEV’s would cause a danger to women.
· Cllr O’Rouke had sat on the working group at the commencement of its work; noted that the result of the previous consultation, evidence in the report, demonstrated that 60% of responders were happy with the position; had concerns that activity would go underground but noted that no evidence had been provided that a nil cap would move the industry in that way; disappointed that the process was back in the same cycle of consultation; sought from officers a further explanation of the on going process.
· The Service Manager, explained that the policy change proposed, covered the areas outlined by the Licensing Policy Officer; that the current policy was established in 2011 and now needed to be reviewed and refreshed.
· The Licensing Policy Officer advised that a benchmarking exercise had taken place with the Core Cities but none had a nip cap; further that the question on the industry operating underground was put to the national forum but no evidence was forthcoming on this issue.
· Members agreed that there was a need to move forward with Cllr Combley commenting that she had been on the working group for a number of years; that the current cap was appropriate; that at the end of her time on the working group she took the view that all were in agreement with the evidence presented, to retain the status quo but noted that the option being proposed now differed from the original findings.
· Members looked to the Chair to move to the vote.
· Resolved (7 for; 6 against; 1 abstention) that the policy is put out for consultation with delegated authority given to officers to determine when after the local elections the consultation should commence.