To consider a report and its proposals in relation to the composition of Licensing and Appeals Sub-Committees.
The Committee considered the Licensing Sub-Committee Composition report which was set out in agenda pages 17-18. Luciane Bowker, Democratic and Electoral Services Specialist stated that the report proposed to remove the requirement that Licensing Sub-Committees be politically balanced. This change would strengthen the Council’s position against potential legal challenges. Democratic Services would continue to make every effort to convene Panels with Members from different political parties. However this was dependent on Member availability and therefore not always possible.
During the discussion of the item the following comments were made:
· Some Members agreed that it could be difficult to convene Panels and that achieving political balance was not always possible;
· Councillor Hobbs stated that such Sub-Committee hearings were not political;
· Councillor Pittock stated that there were enough Members in the Committee from other political parties to enable Sub-Committees to be composed of at least two parties;
· Councillor Burgess stated that the timings of Sub-Committees made it difficult for working Councillors to attend, she suggested setting up meetings either in the evening or late afternoon;
· Councillor Ferris stated that it had been difficult to convene panels in the past. He agreed that it was preferable to have politically balanced Sub-Committees. However on occasions this may not be possible and confirmed such meetings were not political;
· Some Members expressed concern over impact of holding Sub-Committees in the evening, in relation to Officers’ working hours, the applicants’ availability and potentially their legal representatives;
· Luciane Bowker confirmed that Democratic Services would continue to try and select a politically balanced Panel;
· There was no consensus over the issue of imposing or removing the requirement for Sub-Committees to be politically balanced.
Upon being put to the vote the majority of Members voted to approve the recommendation. Councillor Burgess wished it to be recorded that she had voted against the recommendation.
1) The Committee agrees to recommend to the Constitution Review Working Group that the requirement for Licensing Sub-Committees to be politically balanced be removed; and
2) Every effort would to be made to select politically balanced Panels where possible.