Bristol Virtual Licensing Meetings
Councilors voted to carry out hearings on Bristol pubs and clubs' opening hours online.
18:25 25 August 2021
Bristol councillors have recently voted to allow virtual licensing hearings on the opening hours of pubs and clubs around the town. This gives residents the opportunity to raise any concern in the comfort of their own homes.
Licensing hearings are held to discuss applications submitted by pub or club owners who are seeking permission to host certain types of activities or sell alcohol. Members of the public will be given the opportunity to raise their questions during virtual hearings which eliminates the need to travel to City Hall.
Many residents have found it easier to participate when hearings are held remotely, a recent research has found. It says: “Whilst there were some minor initial teething problems, remote hearings have worked well with many people, including members, applicants, legal representatives appreciating their convenience, time saving, and importantly increasing accessibility to relevant persons who may otherwise have been disadvantaged from the hearing process due to competing commitments or accessibility needs.”
Despite the benefits that remote meetings offer to residents, head of the council’s licensing team, Abigail Holman, said the council would still need to assess whether each licensing hearing should be held remotely or in person.
“We would consider what’s most appropriate for each meeting,” she said. “We wouldn’t by default say ‘you must attend a remote meeting’ if a concern was raised about attending that or accessibility to that.
“This is intended to increase accessibility.
“So if there was a concern raised we would obviously identify that and liaise with the [committee] chair and the licensing and trading standards manager to assess whether that meeting should be in person or not.”