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Agenda item

McDonalds, 13-15 Seven Sisters Road, N7 6AJ - Premises licence review

Minutes:

The licensing officer introduced the attendees for this item and stated that copies of the delivery driver reports, a licensing action plan, an expert witness report and video footage had been circulated following publication of the agenda.

 

The community safety officer reported that complaints relating to delivery driver nuisance had been received since 2017. These included noise nuisance, dangerous driving and intimidating behaviour and even deliveries to McDonalds at the early hours of the morning. 31% of complaints had occurred after 11pm although they did occur all times of the day and night. McDonalds had attended meetings with the council and residents. The introduction of electric bikes and marshals for the outside area were welcomed but marshals had not been effective.  Displacement of this behaviour would also need to be monitored.  The proposals to block Hercules Place were also welcomed although the officer was under the impression that this had already been happening for some time. The Council had arranged workshops and met with delivery drivers. Parking enforcement had carried out joint patrols with the police and dedicated parking spaces had been trialled. The council recently agreed a traffic management order for Hercules Place from 6pm and it appeared that McDonalds were asking for the local authority to do works that had already been discussed and were unattainable. This was by far the most problematic site.  Other sites had been able to manage their drivers so that they did not impact residents. The community safety officer requested that the delivery service be no longer offered or, at the very least, double the number of marshals to manage the area with the other proposals put forward.

 

The Licensing Authority stated that they had seen the Action Plan and most of the proposals had been tried before and had not worked. Security had been put on the door for a couple of weeks and then had been discontinued. Permanent stewarding of the front door needed to be provided. There should be a system to be able to report drivers to the delivery companies if they misbehaved. This was a  problematic premises and residents were suffering whilst the delivery drivers were not controlled. Officers had worked with the store but still the problems were arising. The police stated that significant efforts had been made to engage with McDonalds.  There was a long history of anti-social behaviour at the venue with no improvement and management needed to improve. Security outside the venue was required to manage delivery drivers which should be SIA security staff rather than venue staff. There was the option of revoking the hours beyond 11pm. It was noted that the moped riders caused the majority of the anti-social behaviour. The police fully supported the application for review.

 

Councillor Gary Heather, speaking on behalf of the Finsbury ward councillors, stated that McDonalds had not adhered to the four licensing objectives. Many issues were related to after the hours of 11pm although there were also issues throughout the day. The delivery system could not adequately be controlled with drivers they did not directly employ.  Mopeds parked as close to the forecourt as possible, using pedestrian pavements.  There was anti-social behaviour and public nuisance from the delivery drivers which would not stop with the use of electric vehicles. There was a concern that parking enforcement would displace the delivery driver problem to neighbouring streets.  Islington Council had invested time dealing with issue.  They had arranged community meetings. Parking issues regarding the 24 hour red route had been raised with TfL.   Food delivery needed to be regulated in order to protect the amenity of residents. A local resident stated that he had been abused by delivery drivers  and there were issues regarding criminal activity including drug dealing, abuse, fighting and speeding. Police had been called in response.  There was constant loitering. Groups of riders were intimidating and were not always delivering, but just loitering.  Helmets were worn so talking was louder.  Deliveries to the premises took place at 1.30 am recently which was not conducive with being a good neighbour.  Engines were left running and evidence was compelling that this has been since 2017.  Car engines were kept running outside the premises, playing loud music.  The disturbance for neighbours was constant. A second resident stated that the groups were intimidating, there was noise late at night and residents could not go into the street.  Cars sat with their engines idling, horns beeping, there was a huge amount of drug dealing and recently McDonalds jet washed the outside of their shop at 3am further disturbing residents.

 

In response to questions,  the resident stated that she had a lot of video evidence.  She had a pram and she could not get along the pavement because of the groups of riders and it was intimidating. Councillor Heather stated that there was a lot of evidence of nuisance, video, many emails from residents. Regarding partnership working he had organised community meetings.  There had been no recognition of the efforts made by the Council.  He wanted to continue to work with McDonalds.

 

The licensee’s representative stated that 28 minutes had been given in support of the review and requested a time extension.  This was refused by the Chair and the licensee’s representative asked that it be minuted that the request had been made and refused.

 

The licensee’s representative accepted that residents had been disturbed over a long period.  The licensee took over the licence in December 2019 and problems had existed before then.  Since then, the licensee had been managing the premises under Covid.  There had been an large increase in home delivery services from March to November of 164%.  The delivery drivers were there to serve all residents including key workers and people with disabilities.  These residents had the overwhelming majority of deliveries.  He stated that there was a more proportionate step than to stop deliveries after 11pm and these were detailed in the Action Plan detailed in the bundle. His client had taken the exceptional step of using bicycles after 11pm.  He had taken steps to block delivery drivers in Hercules Place and these steps had been proven to be effective and had worked. The independent expert witness, whose report had been separately circulated, stated that he had seen progressive improvements with the implementation of the Action Plan over the course of three visits. On the 7 August 2021 and after 11pm he had witnessed no drivers outside the front of McDonalds.  There was only one pedal cyclist and one food collection on the Saturday.  No other drivers seen were in relation to McDonalds. He had seen other bad behaviour, not related to McDonalds, and could understand the frustration of residents. The supervisor present was proactive.  He watched him with customers and talking to drivers.  He was not able to control members of the public but he had informed customers that they were at risk of a parking ticket. The front was clean, tidy and quiet.  If the premises continued to be managed in this manner he was confident that there would be no problem. The licensee’s representative highlighted the police response on page 129 of their supplementary pack which stated that the police was happy with the Action Plan and had nothing further to add.  He stated that if deliveries were stopped at 11pm it would only punish residents and the proposals in the Action Plan had been working and were proportionate and appropriate.

 

In response to questions, the licensee stated that he had not been aware of the jet washing to the windows at 3am and would look into this. He had met with the distribution company and deliveries to the premises would take place between the hours of 8am and 5pm. The licensee had signed up to the Mayors Night Safety Charter. He took his business very seriously. The Action Plan had been sent to the Licensing Authority prior to the review and no response had been received. There were no parking spaces for delivery drivers which was an issue. Only non-motorised bikes would be used after 11pm. The licensee stated that he used Uber Eats and Just Eats and any driver who did not follow the rules would be excluded from delivery from this premises permanently.  There was an anti-social behaviour log in the restaurant.  They were unable to control the other businesses and McDonalds was one of many. The policies they now had in place after 11pm had dealt with the issues and these would be expanded to 24 hours by the 1 October. Much of the noise disturbance was from moped activity. Action had been taken and this had now stopped after 11pm and non-motorised vehicles would be used throughout the day from October. Parking spaces were allocated on Seven Sisters Road. Drivers were allowed to come into the restaurants now.  The premises took identification from each courier.  Cameras were in Hercules Place and Bowmans Mews and so the licensee could see if they had parked illegally. The licence numbers were then taken and drivers were excluded from delivering to the premises.  He had spoken to the delivery providers and they were in agreement with this. There were records available if required. The majority of deliveries were made to Islington residents and residents would be harmed if the licence was revoked.

 

In summary, the community safety officer reported that this was by far the most problematic location. The council had been working with the licensee since he had taken over the premises. There had been 114 complaints about delivery drivers since January 2021 and 43 of these had been after 11pm. The need for a delivery service would grow and this was even more reason to provide respite for residents. Delivery orders for local residents would be provided by another McDonalds. There had been a two week period of quiet before the review was heard but issues had been going on for a number of years.

 

The police stated that they were shown the Action Plan and considered that if this was actioned properly it could go a long way to relieving issues for residents. If it was not, then they would like to see the hours cut as this is not fair for local residents.  The Licensing Authority agreed with the Community Safety officer and the Police and stated that it would be interesting to see the exclusions for deliveries that had been made so far. The Action Plan sounded as though it should be an improvement but she stated that the authority had been in this situation before.

 

Councillor Heather was concerned that measures had taken so long.  He did not consider that measures were working. The platform system did not control the drivers and with the lack of parking, the location could not cope.  He did not consider that the Action Plan had been proven in two weeks. The licensing objectives were not being upheld. A local resident stated that nobody seemed to be accountable for the drivers, they could not be controlled and other McDonald sites could better facilitate deliveries.

 

The licensee’s representative stated that the Action Plan had been working for two weeks and this was the evidence as to how it was working now and would be in the future. The best evidence was in the reports from the expert witness.  He considered that there was a transformation in the environment.  If there was any slippage the premises would be reviewed again.. This gave the chance to the licensee to demonstrate the steps worked.  50% of business were deliveries, there were 65 employees and the premises served 1000s of residents. Solutions through the Action Plan had been found to be effective and could be imposed as conditions rather than to ban all deliveries after 11pm.

 

RESOLVED

a)   That the premises licence in respect of McDonalds, 13-15 Seven Sisters Road, N7 6AJ be  modified and the following conditions be added to the licence:-

·         There be no collection for delivery services from the premises between 11pm and 5am.

 

·         The premises licence holder shall employ at the premises at least 2 SIA door supervisors on Friday and Saturday and 1 SIA door supervisor on Sunday to Thursday from 23:00 until 05:00 or 30 minutes after the end of licensable activity for walk in customers if earlier.

 

b)   The following conditions in the Action Plan numbered 2d, 2e, 4a, 4b, 4c, 5a, 6a and 11 shall also be applied to the licence as detailed below.

 

2d. A contact telephone number of the on-duty manager shall be prominently displayed at the premises and made available to local residents to enable issues to be resolved swiftly.

 

2e. The licence holder shall be responsible for the installation and maintenance of CCTV cameras to the side of the building in Hercules Place and, with the permission of the landowner, in Bowman’s Mews.

                                                                                                           

4a. The licence holder shall set up an Anti-Social Behaviour (“ASB”) log and regularly report to the local policing team and via the Metropolitan Police Service website including any supporting CCTV evidence.

 

4b. A manager who is fully trained in McDonald’s procedures on ASB shall be deployed at the premises whilst it is open to the public.

 

4c. At all times the premises shall risk assess the need for security provision.

 

5a. No deliveries by vehicles of food and consumables to the premises shall take place outside the hours of 08:00 – 17:00hrs.

 

6a.  The licence holder shall facilitate quarterly resident meetings at the premises to discuss any issues arising out of the operation of the restaurant.

 

11. Proposal to re-start consultation with local residents who are affected by the matters raised in the review application with the purpose of discussing the points of this action plan and their feedback.

 

REASONS FOR DECISION

This meeting was facilitated by Zoom.

 

The Sub-Committee listened to all the evidence and submissions and considered the material provided. The Sub-Committee reached the decision having given consideration to the Licensing Act 2003, as amended, and its regulations, the national guidance and the Council’s Licensing Policy.

 

The Sub-Committee heard evidence from the Community Safety Officer that since 2017 there had been multiple complaints regarding delivery drivers collecting deliveries from McDonalds, including complaints of noise, littering, urinating and defecating, dangerous driving and violence. The Community Safety Team had been monitoring the complaints since January 2021 and 30% of the complaints were after 11pm, although the problems were at all times of the day. The Sub-Committee heard that no other restaurants in the area have an equivalent late licence. The Community Safety Team had been in contact with the premises and welcomed the Action Plan put in place but questioned why this had not been done earlier. The Community Safety Team was concerned that the use of electric bikes rather than motorised vehicles would not tackle the problem of groups congregating, and that marshals had previously been used but were not effective. The Community Safety Team was concerned that the problems would be displaced to other areas. The Sub-Committee heard that the Community Safety team had done a great deal of work with McDonalds, the delivery platforms, the drivers and residents to try to tackle the problems but there was still a negative impact on residents.  The Community Safety Team wanted to balance the competing needs of the business and local residents but was seeking the removal of the licence or, if this was not considered proportionate, extra marshals to be added as a condition.

 

The Sub-Committee heard evidence from the Licensing Authority that many of the actions set out in the Action Plan had already been tried and had not worked. The Licensing Authority suggested that the premises required permanent security and policing of the front door and drivers and questioned whether there was any way to report drivers to the delivery platforms to get rid of rogue drivers. Residents were suffering and drivers were not controlled, Community Safety had done so much work but problems were still arising.

 

The Sub-Committee heard evidence from the Police that since June 2020 there had been a number of calls to police involving delivery drivers and/or the premises.  The police were of the view that the venue management needed to improve significantly and that SIA security could assist but another option could be the revocation of hours beyond 11pm.

 

The Sub-Committee heard from a Ward Councillor that problems occurred all day and night and that McDonalds had no control over delivery drivers.  There was noise, crime and disorder and traffic offences and the use of electric vehicles would not stop this. It was important not to displace the problem elsewhere. Much partnership working had been done but the amenity of residents must be protected. The Sub-Committee heard that the area was not suitable for this kind of delivery service as there were no parking spaces for drivers. The Sub-Committee heard from two local residents that problems caused by delivery drivers were relentless day and night. There was noise, intimidation, loitering, blocking the pavement, idling engines, screaming and shouting and, most recently, McDonalds staff were jet washing outside the premises at 3am. 

 

The Sub-Committee heard evidence from the licensee’s representative that it was agreed that residents had been disturbed over a long period. The current licensee only took over the franchise in late 2019 and three and half months later, the Covid pandemic hit and there was an extraordinary explosion of requests for home delivery. Drivers were there to serve Islington residents including key workers and residents with disabilities.  The proportionate response to the review would be to implement, as conditions, the Action Plan put forward by the premises. The Sub-Committee heard that the police had stated in an email that they agreed with the steps in the Action Plan and had nothing further to add.

 

The Sub-Committee heard evidence from Mr Bamber that, over the course of three visits to the premises, he had observed the progressive implementation of the Action Plan. Mr Bamber stated that the current environment at the premises was clean, tidy and quiet and that if the premises continued as it was on his last visit there would be no further problems for residents.

 

The Sub-Committee heard from the licensee that he took the issues seriously and personally and that he had made a note of the issue regarding jet washing and would look into this. He had met with the distribution company regarding deliveries to the premises and had changed the window of delivery to 8am to 5pm only.  The licensee took the issue of women’s safety very seriously.  He was trying to create a long term solution for delivery businesses that could be used as a future blueprint. The licensee confirmed that whenever a driver collected a delivery from the premises the driver had to show an ID number, and that any driver causing ASB was reported to the delivery platform and would not be allowed to collect from the premises again. CCTV was in place to allow the premises to see if drivers were parking in Hercules Place. The licensee’s representative confirmed that the premises only deliver within a one and a half mile radius and that it would not just be the premises that would suffer if the licence was revoked, it would also be the thousands of residents who order deliveries.

 

The Sub-Committee noted the concerns of the responsible authorities that the steps set out in the Action Plan had previously been tried and had not worked. The Sub-Committee was therefore not satisfied that the imposition of the proposed conditions would be sufficient to tackle the problems caused by the delivery drivers, and promote the licensing objectives. Although the Sub-Committee noted the evidence of Mr Bamber that the premises had been quiet following the implementation of the Action Plan, the evidence of the local residents, the Ward Councillor and the responsible authorities was that the issues were continuing despite the implementation of the Action Plan. The Sub-Committee therefore concluded that it was necessary and proportionate to remove the premises’ ability to have deliveries, whilst allowing them to continue to serve late night refreshment to walk in trade. The Sub-Committee was concerned that there could still be noise and other issues from the premises even without delivery drivers, but concluded that the addition of conditions would tackle any such issues and promote the licensing objectives.

 

Supporting documents: