A furore erupted when H&F’s Conservative councillors decided to abolish the publics’ rights to be consulted for each event and proposed a blanket licence application, giving H&F Council the authority to run as many as they liked. A large majority of residents have argued that those rights are an important check on the type and number of functions that the Council agrees to run. However, panicked councillors have rowed back from their earlier demand that officials use the parks as “profit centres” and are now saying that they will only use the licenses to maintain the current events. If that’s the case then the Licensing Committee can agree ‘conditions’ to those licenses that will still allow the public a chance to feed into any further proposals. I would suggest those conditions are as follows:
- Restrict the licence to only cover the current events. Those being the current fireworks party, the opera and the fair. This would legally require the Council to consult residents each and every time it wanted to run anything above that
- Remove wrestling and boxing from the licence application
- Limit the time for setting up and dismantling each event
- Lower the terminal hour from the proposed midnight to 11.00pm
- Lower the proposed decibel level
- Give the licence for a provisional one year only and review it in 12 months time.
Such was the embarrassment of Administration councillors that they put out a range of misinformation which has all turned out to be untrue. The law doesn’t require these generic licenses. The fireworks party was not previously illegal. The Council did not have to apply to run boxing and wrestling events (and indeed, a council officer did not tick the boxes for boxing and wrestling by mistake). In fact, the licensing committee can agree to all of the above conditions.
I hope they do. Most residents have said that they would be happy for the parks to be used for well managed events that do not disturb people in the homes and sheltered housing that surrounds our parks. Many have said that they believe that each event should still be publicly applied for and that local residents’ legal and democratic rights to influence the decision should not be abolished. That seems reasonable to me and I will argue that case at committee. Please email me here if you want me to make any other points. I will report back on what the councillors, who make up the Licensing Committee, end up agreeing.