The council’s administration of its public meetings has again fallen short, ahead of a licensing sub-committee due to be held at the Town Hall tomorrow morning.
The last licensing committee meeting has become a matter of controversy because neither the chair, Labour councillor Jane Avis, nor the committee clerk, council official James Haywood, had ensured that a member of the council’s legal department was on-hand to provide advice. A decision on the proposed new licensing policy, which needs to be implemented by 2019, was therefore deferred until January.
The council has a legal duty to publish the agendas of all its public meetings at least seven days in advance. By this morning, there was still no published agenda available for the licensing sub-committee.
The omission could be a council cock-up (just the latest), but some are inclined to assume that the absence of an agenda is to avoid drawing too much public attention to one matter believed to up for a decision, involving Boxpark, the council’s favourite booze and music venue. Jo Negrini and Tony Newman, the chief exec and council leader, have, after all, handed Boozepark a £3million loan and a £180,000 grant of public dosh.
Katharine Street sources are aware that there has been an application by Boozepark for what is called a “Temporary Events Notice”. There is a suggestion that there may have been an objection raised by the local police, though in the absence of a properly published agenda, or any response from the council officer responsible, it has not been possible to confirm that, or the nature of any possible objection.
The absence of an agenda and due notice of the application by Boozepark will have also made it more difficult for any objections to be raised by the public.
A high-profile Eskimo Dance gig at Boxpark and advertised in October had to be cancelled at the last minute and tickets refunded when the venue was without a required licence for the event.
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