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SOUTH TYNESIDE COUNCIL: Statement of Licensing Policy endorsed

SOUTH TYNESIDE COUNCIL: Statement of Licensing Policy endorsed

South Shields Town Hall

A new gambling licensing policy for South Tyneside has been backed by borough councillors.

As the borough’s licensing authority, South Tyneside Council is responsible for issuing licences and permits to all premises offering gambling.

This ranges from bingo halls and betting premises to prize machines, club gaming and family entertainment centres.

At a meeting of borough council on Thursday (November 25), councillors were asked to endorse a refreshed Statement of Licensing Policy for 2022-25, ahead of the existing document expiring in January next year.

The revised policy outlines how consistent, transparent and fair licensing decisions should be made.

It also takes into account the latest guidance from the Secretary of State, changes in legislation, recent case law and experience gained by the licensing authority over recent years.

During debate on the report at full council this week, some concerns were raised by councillors.

Councillor David Francis, leader of the council’s Green Group, singled out an aspect of the report which is taken into consideration by a licence holder or applicant when undertaking a local risk assessment.

This includes identifying any establishment where children and vulnerable adults are known to attend regularly within 100 metres of their premises.

“I’m not sure if 100 metres is enough of a deterrent to somebody struggling with compulsive behaviour and gambling addiction,” Cllr Francis said.

“But I’m also aware that regardless of any distance limitations, anyone with a [mobile phone] in their pocket essentially has access to a portable casino without even leaving their home.”

The Green Party councillor asked whether there was anything the council could do to address the promotion and advertising of gambling in the borough, whether for in-person or online gambling.

Meanwhile, Labour councillor Angela Hamilton said the council should look at the language used in reports going forward to “make sure it is more inclusive and diverse.”

Councillor Ernest Gibson, cabinet member for area management and community safety, said views would be taken on board and that the councillors would receive written responses.

The report to borough council, which was endorsed by councillors, follows a public consultation over the summer when the council also sought the views of its partners including the police, planning and public health departments as well as the licensed trade and other local businesses.

Under the Gambling Act 2005, every local authority must publish a Gambling Licensing Policy (Statement of Licensing Policy) and refresh it at least every three years.

It sets out how the authority will exercise its functions under the act with a view to promoting the three gambling licensing objectives:

  • Preventing gambling being a source of crime and disorder, being associated with crime and disorder or being used to support crime.
  • Ensuring that gambling is conducted in a fair and open way.
  • Protecting children and other vulnerable persons from being harmed or exploited by gambling.

For further information about the council’s approach to gambling, visit the council’s website at www.southtyneside.gov.uk/licensing

Words: Chris Binding, Local Democracy Reporter

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