Alcohol Licensing Community Action Toolkit
Residents in Cheshire & Merseyside are being encouraged to become more involved in local licensing decisions and to have their say on how alcohol impacts their community.
Representatives from Local Authority Licensing and Public Health, Public Health England, Hitched Communities and Hitch Marketing are working together to develop communication tools that allow residents to have their say on licensing decisions that will affect them.
The licensing process can seem overly complicated, intimidating and difficult to navigate, and there is a perception that there is very little support offered to individuals to raise their concerns. The ambition of the project is to encourage residents to become more involved, which in turn will help local authorities to make and enforce decisions about the most appropriate licensing strategies for the local area.
What We Did
We reached out to Liverpool City Council and Public Health England and asked them what we could do to help communities in the region. After an innovation session with stakeholders we co-designed a project to help address licencing issues in the community.
With the help of the Hitch Fund, to access expertise from Hitch Marketing, we carried out a desk study, designed and analysed a stakeholder survey across the region, and conducted focus groups and a range of depth interviews with stakeholders (such as councillors) in target pilot communities in the region. This gave us the insights to understand what best practice guidance and supporting communications tools and channels were needed to empower community stakeholders to take action.
We compiled a comprehensive insights report and presented key findings to the Champs Alcohol Board recommending next steps, which was later shared and supported at a national licencing conference.
This led to the design and publication of a best practice guide for councillors and other community stakeholders to empower communities to take action against licence holders in breach of standards to safeguard communities.
The new website was developed including details on the licensing process and how it works, who to speak to if alcohol is affecting the local community plus many other practical tips on how to get involved.
Finally, a set of community-based assets were created with supporting guidelines and press release for stakeholders, such as Citizen’s Advice Bureaux, to signpost community members to the website and resources.
The insight work and supporting work led to the approach being supported at a national licencing conference in England, making the resources available for use by Licencing teams and other community stakeholders across England.
There are now plans to deliver local digital campaigns in targeted areas to help amplify the message and stimulate community action on licencing matters.
Adam Major, Champs Public Health Collaborative: “Hitched Communities and Hitch Marketing gave us the professional and flexible resources and expertise needed. They worked effectively with a range of stakeholders to gather insights, design tools and enable interventions to address licencing issues in problem communities can be better addressed with community engagement both locally and on a national footprint. We hope the new resources will simplify the licencing process and encourage community members to become more involved.”
Dave Watson, Public Protection Unit Manager, Warrington Council “We recognise the need to actively promote the licensing objectives in a way that protects the public and which addresses local need. This was an excellent opportunity to work collaboratively with public health colleagues from across the region. We hope that the resource will help to strengthen the public voice in decisions that may affect them and to ultimately shape future policies alongside the views of other stakeholders.”