Local Government Lawyer Insight February 2018 LocalGovernmentLawyer 38 any certainty be traced back to any particular licensed premises; and that even well-run premises, with a decent client base against whom there could be no justifiable criticisms, were making their own contribution, however small, to the cumulative impact experienced away from the premises themselves. The ‘global effect’ Scott Baker J spoke of was the sum- total of all these small contributions – i.e. the cumulative impact. The Court sympathised with the proposition that it was next to impossible to take effective action other than by stemming the growth of additional licensed outlets. Exceptions to policy Scott Baker J concluded his judgment with guidance that finds an expression in most of the cumulative impact policies I see today: “If the policy is not to be consistently overridden in individual cases it must be made clear within it that it will only be overridden in exceptional circumstances and that the impeccable credentials of the applicant will not ordinarily be regarded as exceptional circumstances. It should be highlighted that the kind of circumstances that might be regarded as exceptional would be where the underlying policy of restricting any further growth would not be impaired. An example might be where premises in one place would replace those in another.” One might have thought the Chorion case had settled the issue once and for all: but in recent years I have seen great bundles of testimonials in support of applications, which only say that like premises elsewhere are well managed and cause no (on-site) problems. And these bundles have been accepted by licensing sub-committees as persuasive, if not determinative. If there is one principle above all others that stands out in the above citations, it is that even well-run, incident-free premises play a role in contributing to the adverse cumulative impact experienced in our towns and cities; and it is no answer to a cumulative impact objection to say “my premises are well managed and there are no on-site issues.” It is legitimate, therefore, to conclude: “Cumulative impact policies came into being to solve the problems caused by well-run premises.” Having discussed the origins of cumulative impact policies in 2001, and identified their purpose then, the question arises: is there any evidenced need for such policies today? The best of times. The worst of times. It is very difficult, these days, to come to a reliable conclusion on any issue the supporting facts for which are derived from the press or television reports. It is not so much the exaggeration indulged-in to make a good story better (though there is plenty of that), as it is the wildly different accounts we get from one day to another, from one report to another, from one testimony to another. Just as last week we were told that ‘an Aspirin a day’ is good for us (if not essential), and this week we are told it will kill us; so binge drinking was once on the increase, and now it is on the decrease - and tomorrow no doubt it will be on the increase again; alcohol-fuelled crime is under control, and at the same time out of control; drunken anti-social behaviour is not what it used to be, and is worse than it ever was. Who to believe? I had no difficulty in believing the Bishop of Beverley, who in a recent case gave the following evidence: “The side of the church’s property and my back garden backs on to Trinity lane where there is a 14th Century building called Jacob’s Well. Drinkers regularly use Trinity Lane as a urinal. They urinate up against the gate (not the wall) which means the urine seeps under the door. This happens a couple of times a month. I have seen human excrement on the street which has had to be cleaned up. This happens once every couple of months. At least once a month I also have to clear away broken bottles on the road. Whenever I leave to get to the train station I have to go down Barker Lane. Barker Lane is commonly called ‘Sick alley’ – for obvious reasons. I have to negotiate walking past the sick as well as the numerous bottles left there. This is almost a daily occurrence. I recently had to apply for listed building consent to install secondary glazing in my home because the noise from the street was that bad. It had got to the stage where it was difficult to have a quiet night’s sleep/rest on an evening. This has helped considerably with the noise when inside my home, but walking to and from anywhere…at the weekend does mean that we have to brave the hoards and the noise – which on Saturday starts at lunchtime. I would not be able to say where any of these people are going to or coming from. The Church yard attached to the Church is a magnet for drunks and also those that are searching for some ‘privacy’. We have caught people ‘in flagrante’ in the daytime, but invariably we find condoms and underwear in the church yard on Sunday mornings.” A pretty picture. And from an impeccable source. A licensing consultant recently gave this evidence on an appeal – which I think has the ring of truth about it notwithstanding the absence of a Crook and Mitre: “My experience (includes)… a report commissioned for the Tonight programme on young people’s drinking culture (Broadcast Thursday 17th April 2014), and the drinking habits of my own 22 year-old son and 19 year-old daughter. The evidence drawn from these sources is that young people go out with the intention of getting drunk.” First-hand experience Nor am I inclined to discount my own observations. Recently, in order to resolve the conflict arising from one independent expert saying that patrons of a certain nightclub were noisy, drunk and occasionally violent, and another independent expert saying that he had rarely encountered such an orderly dispersal, I turned up at the subject premises at their 03:00 a.m. closing time to see things for myself. I had not been there two minutes when a twenty- something clubber (very well-dressed) tottered out of the premises and vomited on the pavement next to me. Another urinated in some weeds growing near the bus stop where a noisy group was If there is one principle above all others that stands out in the above citations, it is that even well-run, incident-free premises play a role in contributing to the adverse cumulative impact experienced in our towns and cities; and it is no answer to a cumulative impact objection to say “my premises are well managed and there are no on- site issues”.