Fire chiefs: deregulation of licensed venues a ‘step too far’

A government consultation which may see venues and events for under 5,000 people taken out of the provisions of the Licensing Act 2003 has been criticised as a ‘step too far’ by the Chief Fire Officers Association.

While not imposing any additional fire safety requirements in itself, licensing means that other enforcers can inspect these premises, which can have an influence on fire and rescue service inspection programmes.

In the wake of the deaths of two women at the Lava Ignite nightclub in Northampton in October, there are fears that if plans to further deregulate licensing laws go ahead, safety may be compromised.

The BBC’s Inside Out programme heard from 35 local authorities in the east of England which confirmed that they no longer routinely inspect nightclubs.

The deregulation proposals follow government guidance in 2010 advising local authorities to drop routine inspections and adopt a risk-based approach to licensing inspections.

One of the questions posed in the consultation proposals asks:

“Do you agree that events for under 5,000 people should be deregulated across all of the activities listed in Schedule One of the Licensing Act 2003?”

Speaking to, chair of CFOA’s enforcement working group, Nick Coombe, said:

“Although CFOA supports the rationale of reducing burdens to both business and regulators it should not have an impact on public safety.

“We believe the suggestion that events for under 5,000 people should be taken out of licensing requirements altogether is as step too far, as this may have an impact on both operational planning and fire safety.”
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