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Spring 2005


Commodore’s Bit
Annual Dinner
For Sale
Hawker SC
Hogs Back Brewery
Le Pré Valentin 1
Le Pre Valentin 2
Licensing Act
Mid Thames Trophy
Open Weekend
Prizes for 2004
Programme 1
Programme 2
Riverside Barn Concert
Rules Evening
Sailing Down Wind
Sailing Rules
Skittles Night
Start of Season Party
Working Party 2004
Working Party 2005

As you may be aware the Licensing Act 2003 is due to be implemented this year. With this in mind I thought I'd try and bring you up to speed on what this means as far as AQSC is concerned.

The key date was February 7, 2005. For a period of six months after this date clubs can apply to their Licensing Authority (Local Council) to convert their existing club registration into the new Club Premises Certificate.

The government has yet to officially specify the date on which the new Licensing Act will come into force, but it will not be prior to November 2005. Until then clubs will continue to operate under their existing registration.

The RYA is very concerned about the impact of all this on non profit making sailing clubs and is already actively campaigning for changes regarding this sectors classification as compared with large commercial organizations.

A key feature of the new act is the transfer of licensing authority from The Magistrates Court to the Local Council. Our new licensing authority therefore becomes the London Borough of Richmond on Thames. They have published a policy document which defines the general principles that they will take into account for determining each license application.

One of the key objectives of the policy, and this is reflected in the license application, is for the applicant to demonstrate how it intends to meet the stated Licensing Objectives for each of the Licensable Activities for which it is applying. These include the prevention of crime & disorder, public safety, the prevention of public nuisance and the protection from harm of children.

Activities for which a license is required include retail sale of alcohol, supply of alcohol to club members, provision of 'regulated entertainment' to members and supply of hot food and/or drinks from any premises between defined hours.

Aquarius has therefore a number of issues to resolve. Our rules and bi-laws will need to be revised to reflect specifically who may be supplied with alcohol at the club. This will need to include guests, given that under the new legislation visitors can longer be a guest of 'the club' but must be signed in as a member's guest.

The club also needs to define its 'licensable premise' because there are new rules governing alcohol consumption off-site (i.e. in our case along the waterfront). We will also need to review our current opening hours given that some premises now have 24hour licensing.

Charges to be imposed under the new legislation are high, compared with current fees, and are to be based on premises rateable value. This, we are told, is because the new scheme needs to be self financing (i.e. they must incorporate Local Authority administration charges).

For commercial operations such as pubs, restaurants and nightclubs this can be covered by increased charging but for small, non profit, private members clubs such as Aquarius it could mean the difference between having, and not having bar facilities.

A non-domestic rateable value method of setting fees is by no means the most appropriate indicator; in effect it's the best of a bad bunch. It can be argued that the incidence of public disorder involved in private not-for-profit sports clubs in extremely low, and the sector should not be penalized due to this Government initiative.

Since February 7, 2005 a number of anomalies have started arising which highlight many of the problems with the new legislation. Not least of which being the method of charging for the new licenses.

Accordingly the AQSC management committee has decided to sit tight for the time being to see how things develop. We don't have to do anything until sometime prior to November and by then things may be a lot clearer.

This whole issue is high on the agenda at this years Commodores conference at the RYA dinghy Show in March where I expect some pretty lively discussion on the subject.

Mike (Over Easy) Baker

Changes to the Licensing Act