Let's get resident led shisha neighbourhood rules on the books


Shisha is a way of smoking tobacco through a bowl and tube or hose and shisha bars are places where people go to smoke tobacco in this way. Shisha bars are on the up in Birmingham. From 3 in 2007 to 35 in 2016 – that's over a ten fold increase in less than 10 years.

Many of these bars don't sell alcohol but in all other respects have the capacity and activities similar to night clubs. Unlike night clubs,  no single agency or statutory legislation regulates shisha activities. They can only be regulated by using rules created to deal with other problems like anti-smoke legislation.

It's not surprising then that for some communities these bars have become a real problem. Fire safety, anti-social behaviour, noise, litter, and underage sales – all these things  which have for a long time been associated with a regulated nighttime entertainment industry are connected to a non regulated shisha economy. It's one thing to have a bar open until all hours on Broad Street, but quite another to have a nightclub sitting on your doorstep in the residential parts of Highgate.

It's time to look at bringing in some rules to help residents detrimentally effected by these bars. I don't mean a set of rules just to frustrate those who own and run these clubs – I mean a set of rules whose purpose is to put the needs of residents first. Rules to protect our residential areas and that means they have to work and they have to be enforced.

I'm working to bring together all the people who are currently looking into this issue – the Council, academics, residents and Government civil servants -  to see what can be done. In the meantime, if you have anything you would like to share with me about this issue, please contact me on shabana.mahmood.mp@parliament.uk<mailto:shabana.mahmood.mp@parliament.uk>
 

Shisha updates

  • Shisha round table - update

    Shabana's campaign to improve the lot of residents living near to shisha bars took a step forward this week with a successful round table of residents, the police, academics, cllrs, and officers. There was widespread agreement that a new regulatory approach was required, which Shabana will now pursue int he House of Commons. The Council representatives also agreed to put together a formal strategy which will include a much needed overview an approach to deal with the damaging health risks that shisha poses.

     

    The agenda for the meeting which gives a useful overview is below.

    Shisha Roundtable

    Background: Shabana was approached by residents of Highgate in 2016 about the problems caused by a local shisha bar in a residential area. After investigation of the issue including meetings with members of the council the following became clear:

    1) The number of shisha bars is growing rapidly in number in Birmingham

    2) Often these bars are not in traditional entertainment sections of the city

    3) A robust regulatory regime does not exist; those trying to regulate the activities of shisha bars have to rely on legislation intended for other activities

    4) Local residents who live around these bars are often negatively affected

    5) Birmingham is not the only place experiencing this proliferation

    6) The serious health impact of smoking shisha is not well understood

    Shabana would like to explore how we work together to tackle this issue. She would be interested on an update on what approach is currently being taken by local agencies and to explore what steps could be taken including whether there is a requirement for a legislative approach.

    Useful information

    The following options for change which could be considered collectively or independently. 

     

    1. A new licencing regime which provides for Local Authorities to licence shisha premises to operate in their area. It would be illegal for premises to operate as a shisha premises unless licenced. The aim of a licensing regime would be to reducing detrimental impact on local communities; provisions that fire safety are met; Smoke free compliance is assured; raising hygiene standards; safeguarding policies to restrict under 18yrs admission and a sanctions regime where non-compliance cannot be attained.

     

    There are three possibilities for licenses:

    1. Shisha activities become a licensable activity under the Licensing Act 2003 (though smoke free; fire safety, planning and hygiene standards may not be able to be covered).

    2. (A) above, plus additional controls under an amendment of the Local Government (Miscellaneous provisions ) Act 1982 for those activities not covered by the Licensing Act 2003 (smoke free; fire safety, planning and hygiene standards).

    3. An amendment to the Local Government (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1982 to control shisha premises. This would be an adoptive piece of legislation and gives flexibility for the Local Authorities to set local controls to deal with the issues the local authority faces.

     

    1. Strengthen the current provisions of the Health Act 2006 (Smoke free regulations 2007) by the introduction of notice provisions – improvement notices to ensure smoking shelters comply and prohibition notices to close premises where there is deemed an imminent risk to health; increase the level of the current fine and in addition, redefine the definition of smoking shelters under The Smoke-free (Premises and Enforcement) Regulations 2006, Reg 2, so that loop holes currently found are closed. Such loop holes are creating almost enclosed structures.

    2. Agreement for an interpretation of the Local Government Declaration on Tobacco Local Authorities with Public Health duties should have policies in place so that Council owned premises are not allowed planning permission for nor allow licences for businesses that have the business model of gaining monies from people smoking on their premises

     

    A local authority strategy

    Westminster Council have also seen a proliferation of shisha bars from 60 premises in 2010 to 132 in 2014. They have recently undertaken a consultation “Reducing the Harm of Shisha” which outlines a detailed strategy for dealing with the issue. 

     

  • Shabana to lead roundtable on controlling shisha bars

    MP Shabana Mahmood is leading a round table discussion in early March to help tackle problems relating to shisha bars. Shisha bars are on the up in Birmingham. From 3 in 2007 to 35 in 2016 – that's over a ten fold increase in less than 10 years. However unlike night clubs,  no single agency or statutory legislation regulates shisha activities. They can only be regulated by using rules created to deal with other problems like anti-smoke legislation. It's not surprising then that for some communities these bars have become a real problem. It's one thing to have a bar open until all hours on Broad Street, but quite another to have a nightclub sitting on your doorstep in the residential parts of the city.

    Shabana Mahmood MP said:

    "I'm bringing together all those agencies and professionals who deal with the impact of having unregulated shisha bars. I'm looking forward to hearing what they have to say, and to listen to their experiences. I'm hopeful that together we can decide on some practical steps we can take to help alleviate some of the problems caused by shisha bars in residential areas."