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Licensing Act 2003


The Licensing Act 2003 requires the Licensing Authority (the Licensing department in Cornwall Council) to consult with the Fire Authority (Cornwall Fire and Rescue Service) on matters relating to public safety (fire safety).

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The licensing department in Cornwall Council is responsible for the administering and issuing of licences and relies on the consultation process to ascertain whether the licence is meeting the four objectives (see below).  

  • The prevention of crime and disorder
  • The prevention of public nuisance
  • Public safety
  • The protection of children from harm

With respect to public safety (fire safety) the Local Licensing Authority cannot impose any conditions on the licence which would fall under the Fire Safety Order as this is enforced by Cornwall Fire and Rescue Service. 

The Licensing Act 2003 is legislation that applies to premises which are used for the sale or supply of alcohol, providing regulated entertainment, or late night refreshments.

For clarification, licensable activities are:

  • To sell alcohol by retail
  • If you are a qualifying club, to supply alcohol to a club member, or to sell alcohol to a guest of a club member
  • To provide regulated entertainment
  • To sell late night refreshment - selling hot food or drink between 11pm and 5am for consumption on or off the premises, (including take-away's and mobile caterers) unless you are a hotel, staff canteen or campsite

When assessing an application a Fire Safety Officer from Cornwall Fire and Rescue Service will review all the information provided in the application to assess if the fire precautions are suitable and sufficient, and make an initial assessment of the maximum number of persons permitted in the premises at any one time (maximum occupancy). The maximum occupancy will be based on the plan and information provided taking into account the number and size of exits, escape routes, the floor area available, and the use to which the licensed premises is used.

If additional information is required the Fire Safety Officer may contact or visit the site, and might also carry out a fire safety audit.  If we need to carry out a fire safety audit we aim to complete the audit within 28 days (this is the statutory consultation period provided for Licence applications).

Should the calculated occupancy be different from the figure provided by the applicant, the Fire Safety Officer will contact the applicant in the first instance and a site visit will be carried out.  If this does not resolve the situation then it will be passed on to licensing.  If licensing cannot resolve the situation you should make a representation supporting your application.

If a representation is made the Council may have to hold a hearing allowing any responsible authority or individual to make a representation in support or objection to the licence application.

Some licensed premises are audited as part of our risk based inspection program (this is based on risk and also current trends).  If deficiencies are found on licensed premises during an audit and any contravention are relevant to the licensed areas, or contraventions in the licensed area affect the safety of relevant persons, we may recommend a licence review.

When we carry out an audit on licensed premises, we look closely at the following:

  • Available floor space and its use e.g. dining area, dance floor (this used to calculate the maximum occupancy)
  • Fire risk assessment (record of the significant findings)
  • Means of detecting fire & raising the alarm
  • Means of escape
  • Maximum occupancy
  • Emergency procedures & notices
  • Emergency lighting & signage
  • Fire fighting equipment
  • Staff training
  • Housekeeping
  • Testing & maintenance records
  • Arson reduction measures
  • Gas & electrical safety
  • Kitchen safety

The identification of maximum occupancy levels appropriate for the premises (including specific area limits within the premises) should be identified with the fire risk assessment.

Although operating schedules do not have a requirement to include occupancy figures, under the Fire Safety Order, Cornwall Fire and Rescue Service reserves the right to determine or confirm the maximum occupancy levels for the premises.  Occupancy figures are an essential part of the public safety objective so any unresolved problems in this area should lead to representation to the Local licensing Authority.

We have produced a basic leaflet to provide licensed premises with guidance and advice when calculating occupancy figures.

Download  Calculating Occupancy Figures

The Fire Safety Order specifies that the 'Responsible Person' must make a suitable and sufficient assessment of the risk to 'Relevant Persons' from fire (a fire risk assessment).

The Fire Risk Assessment must identify any group of persons identified as being especially at risk and detail the significant findings.  It should include the measures which have been or will be taken to comply with The Order.

This information must be recorded where:

  • Five or more persons are employed
  • A licence under an enactment is in force in relation to the premises
  • An alterations notice requiring this is in force in relation to the premises

We have produced a number of fire risk assessment templates which can be downloaded from our Risk Assessment Template page.