Commenting on Licensing Applications

You can submit your representation by email, post, or via our Public Access Register. See our contact details below

It is an offence knowingly or recklessly to make a false statement in connection with an application and the maximum fine for which a person is liable on summary conviction for the offence

Members of the Public

Members of the public can make a representation to object to or support a premises licence application. You can make a representation about many aspects of an application for a new licence or the variation of an existing one (for example to put on additional activities or extend opening hours).

Any representations must be received by us within 28 days of an application being made.

For a representation to be relevant, it must be about the likely effect of the application on the promotion of the four licensing objectives. It will not be relevant if the Licensing Authority considers it to be vexatious or frivolous.

The Act provides four objectives. In carrying out its functions the licensing authorities must do so with a view to promoting the objectives. They are:

  • The prevention of crime and disorder
  • The promotion of public safety
  • The prevention of public nuisance
  • The protection of children from harm

These licensing objectives have been formulated in order to ensure that the carrying on of licensable activities is done in the overall public interest. Any representations made in relation to an application for a provisional statement, a premises licence or club premises certificate (or a variation) or in respect of a review must be about the likely effect of granting the application on the promotion of the licensing objectives.

Elected Members (Councillors)

The Licensing Act was amended in January 2010 to allow all elected Members of the Council to make representations on applications or call for reviews of existing licences.

How applications will be advertised

Applications will be advertised in several ways:

  • light blue posters must be in place at the premises for 28 days from the date of the application
  • the newspaper advertisements can be in any local paper and may take up to two weeks to appear. If you see the advertisement you may have as little as two weeks left in which to respond
  • on the Licensing Applications Search section of our Public Access website

Details of recent applications and decisions can also be found on our Current Applications page.

Using the Public Access Register, applicants will be able to check all opening hours; licensable activities and any steps the applicant has volunteered to take to promote the four licensing objectives. These are set out in the applicant’s “operating schedule”.

How to make a representation

Representations must be sent to us in writing, via email, or via our Public Access Register and must include the following information:

  • the application reference number or premises address, so we know which application your representation is about
  • a note of which licensing objectives apply to your comments
  • your contact details (postal or email), so that we can keep you informed and invite you to attend any hearing about the application

We cannot take anonymous representations into account, and the applicant will receive a copy of your representation if we accept it. Should your representation become part of the official report put to a Sub-Committee, you are entitled to request that your personal details (name, address, etc.) be redacted from the report which can be accessed publicly. Please inform us of any wish for your details to be redacted at the time that you submit your representation.  An MP or Councillor is able to represent or speak on behalf of their residents. If a Councillor submits a representation on behalf of residents (rather than residents themselves) the representation should state the details (address) of the residents represented for the benefit of the Authority, however it is permitted to request for those details not to be put on a public register.  

Groups representing people or businesses can also appoint spokespersons to make representations on their behalf.

All representations must be about the likely effect of granting the licence or certificate on the promotion of at least one of the four licensing objectives. It would also be wise, therefore, to explicitly link any representation to one or more of the objectives. It will also assist if the representations are specific to the premises and evidence based. Interested parties may, therefore wish to talk to Thames Valley Police beforehand, or document problems themselves by, for example, keeping a diary or photographic evidence of any incidents. Licensing authorities will need to be satisfied that there is an evidential and causal link between the representations made, and the effect on the licensing objectives.  

Licensing Policy

Before making representations, interested parties may wish to look at Oxford City Councils Licensing Policy Statement. Details of the statement can be found here

Operating Schedule

When considering the steps that an applicant has volunteered to promote the licensing objectives, it is important to remember that applicants should already be adhering to legislation in other areas, and they may feel there is nothing additional they need to do to promote the licensing objectives. Some applicants may therefore simply say something like “nothing beyond existing Health and Safety/Fire Safety etc. requirements” or if they are applying to vary a licence “nothing beyond the steps we are currently taking, which are already conditions of the licence”.

For more information about the four licensing objectives and local authorities statements of licensing policy, talk to your local authority’s licensing department.

Things you want to consider when making representations:

  • If no relevant representations are made, the licence or variation must be granted which is subject to mandatory conditions. 
  • It may be helpful to get the backing of other people living, or businesses operating in the vicinity of the premises, or other “responsible authorities”, such as the police or environmental health. 
  • If you are thinking of raising a petition, it is important to ensure that the licensing authority can determine whether all the signatories are within the vicinity of the premises. So, including their addresses and indicating clearly what representation (s) they are all making is helpful. It would also help if a spokesperson could volunteer to receive details about the hearings etc. from the licensing authority and is willing to speak on behalf of the petitioners at the hearing.
  • If you want to ask another person, such as an MP or local Councillor to represent you, it is advisable to make such a request in writing so that the individual can demonstrate he or she was asked. It will be a matter for the MP or local Councillor to decide whether they should agree to your request. They are not obliged to do so, however, most elected representatives are happy to help residents with this sort of issue, and there is no requirement for them to live in the vicinity of the premises in question for them to be able to make representations on behalf of residents that do. Councillors who are part of the licensing committee hearing the application will not be able to enter into discussions with you about the application, outside of the formal hearing, so it is suggested that you do not approach them to try to. 
  • Consider how you would like the situation to be rectified.

What happens after a representation has been made?

 If the licensing authority considers that the representations are relevant (i.e. are from an interested party, are not frivolous or vexatious, and relate to atleast one of the four licensing objectives) it must hold a hearing to consider representations.  This is unless all parties can come to an agreement beforehand, and agree that a hearing is unnecessary. For example, the licensing authority may encourage you to engage with the applicant regarding your concerns, you will need to decide if this is appropriate for you.

The licensing authority will write to you to inform you of the date and time of the hearing and will explain the format of the hearing.

If an applicant withdraws their application after a hearing date has been arranged, the licensing authority will let them know that the hearing has been cancelled. Interested parties should be aware that if they make representations about an application that is later withdrawn and the applicant makes a new, amended application, their representations will not automatically be taken forward. Any amended application would need to be re-advertised as set out above. Interested parties will then have the opportunity to decide whether to make representations about the new application.

Licensing Committee Hearings

Interested parties that make representations are required to give notice to the licensing authority at least 5 working days before the start of the hearing, stating;

  • Whether they will attend the hearing in person
  • Whether they will be represented by someone else (e.g. councillor/MP/lawyer)
  • Whether they think that a hearing is unnecessary (if, for example they have come to an agreement before the formal hearing)
  • If they want another person to appear at the hearing (not to represent them), a request for permission for the person to attend, and details of their name and how they may be able to assist the authority in relation to the application.

Interested parties must let the licensing authority know as soon as possible (by a notice no later than 24 hours before that start of a hearing, or orally at the hearing) if they wish to withdraw their application.

Hearings will generally be held in public, unless the licensing authority decides it is in the public interest to hold all, or part of the hearing in private. The licensing authority shall ensure that minutes are taken of the hearing.

Hearings will normally take the form of a discussion and will be led by the licensing authority, which will consist of 3 local authority elected councillors (this is the licensing sub-committee drawn from a full licensing committee of 15 councillors). The licensing authority explains the procedure to be followed. The licensing committee considers evidence produced in a report before the hearing and can consider evidence produced by a party at the hearing, but only if all parties agree. Further evidence can also be produced if this examination of one party by another during the hearing is not allowed, unless the licensing authority thinks it necessary. The licensing committee will disregard any information it considers to be irrelevant.

NB – A hearing can still go ahead in the absence of any party (e.g. – applicant or interested party)

Hearing decisions

  • As a result of the hearing, the licensing committee must then decide how to proceed in order to promote the licensing objectives. It may: 
  • Decide to grant or vary the licence in the same terms as it was applied for
  • Decide that it is necessary to refuse to issue or vary the licence
  • Decide to grant or vary the licence, but to modify the conditions
  • Exclude from the scope of the licence a licensable activity
  • In the case of a premises licence, refuse to specify a person as the premises supervisor.

The licensing committee must give notice of its decision with 5 working days (if it does not give a decision at the hearing) and include information on the right of a party to appeal against the decision.