Council prepares for potential licensing changes to hundreds of Sheffield businesses

Sheffield Council's licensing team is looking ahead to potentially having to enforce new changes to hundreds of city businesses.

Tuesday, 23rd June 2020, 1:34 pm

Councillors on the licensing committee and officers in that department are awaiting clearer guidance from the government about what the future of licensing will look like as businesses reopen post-lockdown.

In April, the committee agreed a temporary change of powers to allow Stephen Lonnia, chief licensing officer, to make decisions that would usually be made by them, with the exception of controversial cases.

During a review of this, members raised concerns about what the next steps were as cafes, restaurants, cinemas and other places gradually reopen.

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Coun Josie Paszek said: “As an authority, we have to be mindful that it’s not going to just be new licences, potentially pretty much any licence currently in place could be impacted on, almost like a change of use.

“Just how many cafes can have seating outside and in what areas? And is it high streets away from the city centre? All those sorts of things.

“I think we might need an urgent meeting at some stage to look at the resources in licensing if there are going to be a lot of those, because there could potentially be hundreds of them."

Clive Stephenson, licensing officer, said: “Obviously street traders are now going out and doing their work, but from our point of view, we haven’t had any instructions from the council for what officers should be doing with regards to returning to work.

“We are looking to the next announcement in July to see what will happen with other licensed premises like cinemas and a lot of other places.

“So we are awaiting a full description from government about what is expected of these businesses when they start to reopen and what can we enforce and how.”

The government is due to make an announcement this week about whether the hospitality sector can reopen from July 4.

The council's licensing committee agreed to keep the emergency powers in place and review the situation again in a month's time.

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