Minutes of Special Meeting of the Ross, Skye & Lochaber Licensing  Committee held in the Council Chambers, Lochaber House, High Street, Fort William on Tuesday, 4 September 2007 at 9.30 am.




Mr Craig Fraser
Mr Bren Gormley
Mr Alan Henderson
Mr Brian Murphy


In Attendance:


Mr Alaisdair H Mackenzie, Area Solicitor
Mrs Dot Ferguson, Lochaber Wards Manager
Mr Jim Tolmie, Area Roads & Community Works Manager
Mr Archie Lang, TEC Services
Mr Mike Leary, TEC Services
Mr Arthur Watt, Planning & Building Standards
Mr John O’Kane, ECS Service
Mrs Julie Traynor, Chief Executive’s Office


Also in Attendance:


Chief Inspector I Bryce, Northern Constabulary
Mrs Julie Green, Event Organiser
Mrs T James, Assistant Regional Manager for the Mid Highland Community Health Partnership


(In the absence of the Chair, Mrs Margaret Paterson, the Meeting unanimously appointed Mr Brian Murphy to the Chair.)


1. Apologies for Absence


Apologies for absence were intimated on behalf of Mrs Margaret Paterson, Mr David Alston, Mr Richard Greene, Mr John Laing, Mrs Angela MacLean, Mr Drew Millar and Mrs Jean Urquhart.


2. Application for Temporary Public Entertainment Licence : Big Ben Top Event, Transport Centre Car Park, Fort William – 7 to 9 September 2007


The Area Solicitor invited the Committee to consider the above application which had been received from Slingshot Partnership and Mr Robert James Hicks, 23 Market Street, Ullapool, IV26 2XE. The Committee noted the hours which had been applied for were as follows:-


Friday, 7 September 2007 : from 1700 hours to 0300 hours
Saturday, 8 September 2007 : from 1900 hours to 0300 hours
Sunday, 9 September 2007 : from 1900 hours to 0200 hours


Julie Green, the Event Organiser then addressed the Meeting, during which the following points were noted:-


- that the original event was initially to be held on a larger scale at the BA 
  Park. However a number  of complaints had been received and legal action
  threatened. Attempts to reach a compromise with the event organisers had 
  proved unsuccessful as this would have resulted in the event not being 
  viable and therefore the application for the BA site was withdrawn.


- last year’s Mountain Bike Event had raised serious policing issues for the High
  Street and it was anticipated that the forthcoming event would attract 50% 
  more people than last year. The Big Top Event was to ease the  pressure
  on the High Street public houses.


- an alternative site required to be identified and after investigating a number
  of possible venues, the Transport Centre Car Park had been identified 
  logistically, as being the only viable venue which would accommodate 1500


- the Event Organiser, Mrs Green, had  agreed to take on the responsibility of
  securing the event financially in order to ensure the delivery of the event.


Chief Inspector Ian Bryce then addressed the Meeting, during which the following points were noted:-


- the purpose of the Big Top Event was to alleviate the pressure on the High
  Street by providing entertainment at this location.


- that he considered the venue of the Transport Centre Car Park to be a one-
  off location and that he would have favoured an out of town location 
  however this had not proved possible.


- alternative sites including Aonach Mor had been considered however for
  logistical reasons, the event could not be held  at Aonach Mor as this area
  was completely taken over by Rare Management.


- the proposed event was very much a limited, scaled down event to what
  had been proposed for the BA Site.


- that additional police resources had been put in place for the Mountain Bike 
  Championships and that there would be 40 officers on patrol during the 
  weekend of the Championships.


The Meeting then heard from Theresa James, Assistant Regional Manager for the Mid Highland Community Health Partnership who advised that NHS Highland had withdrawn their formal letter of objection on the basis of the good working partnership NHS Highland had formed with the Highland Council and the Police. Nevertheless, she expressed strong concerns with regard to the location of the proposed event, particularly with regard to the noise levels which would emanate from the event.  She advised that she understood the reasons for the event starting later in the evening but stressed that it would have a detrimental affect on the Hospital and it was imperative that patients and their families were cared for in a conducive environment.  


The Committee noted from Mrs Green that it was proposed amplified music at the event would terminate at 2am on Saturday and Sunday mornings and 1am on Monday morning and that un-amplified music would be played during the final hour of each evening to reduce noise nuisance.


Mrs James further advised that by withdrawing the letter of objection this could be portrayed as a reason for holding futureevents at this site and this was not the impression that NHS Highland would wish to create. It was emphasised to the Committee that NHS Highland would strongly object if any future applications were lodged for this site. 


In addition, Mrs James expressed grave concerns about the security aspect of the Hospital, and in particular the Accident and Emergency Unit which was very vulnerable.  The Committee noted from Chief Inspector Bryce that two Police Officers would be patrolling the Hospital environs during the event. Mrs James further advised that there would also be further disruption caused to staff and patients due to the loss of the use of the car park.


The Chairman then invited Officers from TEC Services,  Planning and Building Control to address the Meeting, during which the following points were noted:-


- Environmental Health had requested further information from the applicants 
  in respect of the toilet facilities and first aid provision and this was expected
  to be received shortly.


- guidance on recommended noise levels for events of this nature
  recommended that music noise levels should not exceed 65 dB(a) between
  the hours of 0900 and 2300 hours and that after 2300 hours, noise levels
  should not be audible within noise sensitive premises.  Members noted from
  Mr Lang, Environmental Health Manager that in his opinion, it would be
  difficult for the applicants to meet these recommended levels however he
  advised that these were only guidelines and that Environmental Health had
  not objected to the application.


- that Mr Watt, Principal Building Control Officer was still awaiting an Engineer’s
  Certificate for the Big Top.  He advised that two certificates were required:
  namely, an Engineer’s Certificate which confirmed the structure was safe
  and a further certificate once the tent had been erected, confirming stability
  of the structure.


- Mr Tolmie stressed that it was important that this event should not set a
  precedent as the purpose of the Transport Centre Car Park was to support
  traffic management.


- the information which had been supplied by the organisers confirmed that all
  equipment, toilet provision etc could be accommodated within the Car Park.


- the main access to the event would be from Nevis Terrace therefore this
  area would require to be traffic managed.


- Mr Tolmie expressed reservations to the Committee concerning the
  reinstatement of the car park. He advised that whilst the organisers had
  made an allowance for the reinstatement of the car park, there was the
  potential of some underground damage occurring. Taking on board the
  concerns of NHS Highland, it was important to get the car park operational
  as soon as possible after the event.

- Officers expressed their concerns regarding the late submission of the
  application and agreed that in future, applications for events of this nature
  should be lodged well in advance of the event in to enable sufficient time
  for officers to undertake the necessary consultations.


The Committee noted from the Julie Green, Event Organiser that the weekend entertainment would comprise three evenings of entertainment, namely a singalong evening, a ceilidh and the event would culminate with a 70’s Disco.


The Committee agreed that a debriefing meeting should be organised after the event and it was considered the Events Group would be the most appropriate forum  for this as most of the partner agencies attended the Events Group Meetings.  It was further agreed that there should be local member involvement in any debriefing meeting.


Arising from further discussion, the Committee concluded that whilst the location was not considered to be the most appropriate site for an event of this nature and without establishing a precedent for future occasions, the application be granted in principal subject to standard conditions and the appropriate Engineer’s documentation being received. In addition, the Committee delegated powers to the Area Solicitor to attach any additional conditions as considered appropriate.


There being no further business, the Meeting concluded at 10.15am