HC Deb 07 January 2003 vol 397 cc16-7
Mr. Jim Cousins (Newcastle upon Tyne, Central)

Happy new year, Mr. Speaker—[Interruption.] Let us start as we want to go on.

Mr. Speaker

Order. Perhaps the hon. Gentleman should ask Question 29.

Mr. Cousins

On how many occasions hearings in licensing magistrates courts have had to be adjourned because of lack of space to hear objectors in each of the last three years. [89164]

The Parliamentary Secretary, Lord Chancellor's Department (Yvette Cooper)

The Lord Chancellor's Department collects nationally only the details of the number of licensing sessions held and has no detail in relation to adjourned licensing hearings or the reasons for any adjournments.

Mr. Cousins

Happy new year again, Mr. Speaker. The season had got to me.

May I draw to my hon. Friend's attention a most unfortunate incident that occurred in Gosforth magistrates court just before Christmas when I and more than 120 of my constituents turned up to make representations against the granting of an additional pub licence in Osborne road, Newcastle, which is becoming a kind of Blackpool of the north-east? Sufficient provision had not been made to hear the volume of objections from local people to the granting of the licence and the hearing had to be adjourned to 20 or 21 January. During the discussions on the matter, the barrister for the applicants suggested that the volume of objections was a display of mob rule. Will my hon. Friend therefore look into the incident to ensure that very important and sensitive licensing applications are properly heard and dealt with in licensing courts?

Yvette Cooper

I shall certainly look into the case that my hon. Friend has raised. He will be aware that the Government have proposed transferring licensing responsibilities to local authorities as part of the work being taken forward by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport. In the long term, these are the issues that local authorities will need to address.

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