If you want to hand out any free printed material, such as newspapers, leaflets, vouchers, business cards, stickers or other promotional material, in a specific area of Torquay you must get a licence from us.

All licences granted contain conditions which are imposed to protect the environment from becoming defaced by litter from free printed matter.

A licence is not needed where free printed matter is placed into a letterbox or building. Charities (charities within the meaning of the Charities Act 1960), political parties and religious groups are also exempt and can distribute free printed matter within the designated areas without our consent.

Map
The area the Designation Order covers within Torquay.

Anyone caught handing out free printed matter like flyers in the area of the order without a licence may be committing an offence. If we take action against the person, if convicted at Court, they could face a fine of up to £2,500.

Application

You can apply for a licence by completing an application form and sending it us along with the correct fee. Applications must be submitted at least 14 days prior to the planned start date of a distribution.

  Download a leaflet distribution licence application

Fees

The fee for an Annual Leaflet Distribution Consent (1 Distributor) is £108.

The fee for Single Event Leaflet Distribution Consent (1 Distributor) is £108.

The fee for an Additional Distributor (a maximum of 5 additional Distributors per Consent) is £21 each.

The fee for a replacement Distributor Card is £21 each.

Schedule 3A of the Environmental Protection Act 1990 as amended by the Clean Neighbourhoods and Environment Act 2005, enables Torbay Council (“the Council”) to designate land and places where the distribution of free printed matter is prohibited without the prior consent of the Council.

These new controls on the distribution of free printed matter are intended to prevent items such as leaflets, newspapers, documents, cards, pamphlets, stickers or other literature from being discarded and becoming litter.

For the purposes of the legislation, printed matter is “free” if it is distributed without charge to the persons to whom it is distributed.  This includes, for example, any leaflet, newspaper, document, card, pamphlet, sticker or other printed matter for which no charge is made to the recipient.  Distribution includes the offering or making such material available (for example by placing free newspapers in a stand) and includes fixing or placing leaflets on a vehicle.

The Council operates a scheme whereby people wishing to distribute free printed matter within the designated areas, must apply for a Consent.  Any person who distributes free printed matter without a Consent from the Council may be committing an offence and could be liable on conviction in a Magistrates’ Court to a fine up to £2,500.

A Consent is not needed where free printed matter is placed into a letterbox or building, therefore the distribution of free newspapers and handbills to residential or commercial premises is not affected.  Similarly, organisations such as charities (charities within the meaning of the Charities Act 1960), political parties and religious groups are exempt from these provisions and can distribute free printed matter within the designated areas without a Consent.  However, the Council expects them to comply with the Conditions which are attached to the granting of each Consent.

The Council charges a fee for issuing a Consent. The amount of the fee is to cover the costs of operating and enforcing the provisions of the legislation in the designated areas. The charge also includes the cost of a single authorisation badge, which must be worn by each distributor of free printed matter. Additional badges may be requested when applying for a Consent subject to payment of an additional fee per badge (up to a maximum of 5 additional badges). Once a Consent has been issued, the Consent holder is NOT able to add additional badges.  If a Consent holder requires more distribution badges (up to a maximum of 5), the Consent will need to be surrendered and a new application made to the Council along with payment of the relevant fees.

The fee will allow you to distribute free printed matter in the designated areas from the date specified on the Consent until the 31st March. Regardless of when you apply for a Consent, the Consent will always expire on the 31st March and a renewal application will need to be submitted. The maximum period a Consent is valid for is 12 months.

Designated Areas

Torbay Council has designated the following areas where prior consent from the Council is required in order to distribute free printed matter:

  • Torquay - Fleet Street, The Strand, Vaughan Parade, Victoria Parade, Torwood Street and Union Street.

  • Council Car Parks - Town Hall, Lower Union Lane, The Terrace (also known as The Harbour Car Park)

  • The distribution of free printed matter is prohibited in all Torbay Council owned car parks in accordance with the Borough of Torbay (Off Street Parking Places) Order 2008.

A consent is not required if you intend to distribute free printed matter outside the designated areas.

Application for Consents

  1. Applications for Consent need to be submitted to the Council at least 14 days before prior to the start date of any distribution activity, together with payment of the relevant fee.  Incomplete application forms will be returned to the applicant, together with the fee.

  2. Applications for Consent may be refused if the applicant has been convicted of an offence of distributing free printed matter without consent, or causing another person to distribute free printed matter without consent within the last 5 years; or paid a Fixed Penalty Notice within the last 3 years.

  3. Consents will also be refused if, in the opinion of the Council, the proposed distribution would be likely to lead to defacement of the designated land.  In these circumstances the Council will notify you of the reasons for refusal and give you the opportunity to comment before providing a final decision.

  4. Refused applicants may appeal to the Magistrates Court against a refusal.

  5. The legislation enables the Council to impose conditions upon a Consent. A full list of all the conditions can be found on theConditions page. The Council will inform the applicant of any further Conditions imposed upon individual applications.  A Consent may be revoked if any of the specified Conditions are breached.

  6. In the event of a Consent being revoked, any fees paid by the applicant will not be refunded.

  7. The Council may share information with other Authorities in accordance with the Data Protection Act 1996.

Appeals

  1. Any applicant aggrieved by the Council refusing or revoking a Consent, or disagreeing with any condition or limitation attached to the Consent, may appeal to the Magistrates’ Court.  The Court may then dismiss or allow the appeal, or vary the Conditions attached.

  2. If an appeal is made to the Magistrates’ Court against a refusal to grant Consent, or a revocation of Consent, the applicant will not be able to lawfully distribute free printed matter until the court determines that Consent should be granted, or quashes the revocation of Consent.

  3. If the appellant distributes free printed matter pending the outcome of the appeal, an offence is committed and the appellant could be liable on conviction to a fine of up to £2,500.

Enforcement

  1. While any authorised Officer of the Council can carry out enforcement, Licensing Officers and Street Wardens will predominantly be responsible for carrying out enforcement of the Conditions on the Consent.

  2. Enforcement observations may be through indirect interaction with the distributor, via the Council’s 24 hour CCTV Operation (who will retain the film with images of the distributor for further investigation), or by other observation techniques.  Any staff member of the Council or other Consent holder can report contraventions of compliance to Licensing by calling 01803 208025.

  3. Any person who distributes free printed matter without a Consent from the Council may be committing an offence and could be liable on conviction in a Magistrates’ Court to a fine up to £2,500.  An offence is committed if someone causes another person to distribute free printed matter in a designated area without consent.  The person commissioning the actual distributor therefore also commits an offence.

  4. The free printed matter may be seized and kept for 6 months after which period it will be returned on proper application to the Magistrates Court.

  5. A Consent may be revoked at any time, by notice to the Consent holder, if they fail to comply with any of the conditions imposed in relation to the Consent.  Any subsequent activity in regard to breach of the legislation of distribution of free printed matter, will be prosecuted as if a Consent did not exist.

Lost Consent, Consent no longer required

  1. Consents granted by the Council state as a condition, that all those tasked with distribution must clearly display a Distributor badge. If one of the badges from the Consent becomes lost or stolen, the Consent holder will not be able to utilise one of the Distributors until a replacement is received, as to do so would breach a condition of the Consent. Replacement badges can be requested from the Licensing Team at a cost of £20 per badge.   All of the badges linked to the Consent need to be returned to Licensing, together with payment of the relevant fee before a replacement can be issued.

  2. If a Consent has been issued and it is no longer required, please contact the Licensing Team in writing who will update the Council’s records.  All badges linked to the Consent are to be returned to the Council.

  3. A Consent cannot be transferred from one name/business to another individual/business.  A new application for a Consent is required together with payment of the relevant fee.

Events within the designated area

If you are considering running an event (e.g. setting up stalls, use of vehicles, actors, costumes, video screens etc.) or wish to distribute free samples or products in Torquay Town Centre then you must contact us via email towndiary@torbay.gov.uk as you may need permission to do so. This is in addition to any application to distribute free printed matter.

When a Leaflet Distribution Consent is granted under the Environmental Protection Act 1990 as amended by the Clean Neighbourhoods and Environment Act 2005, standard conditions are attached to each consent.

All consents granted contain the following standard conditions which must be adhered to at all times:

  • Distributors must wear a clearly visible authorisation badge issued by the Council at all time whilst engaged in the distribution of Free Printed Matter.   

  • Authorisation badges shall be produced on request to any authorised officer of the Council.

  • No more than a specified number of Distributors shall be permitted to operate at any one time.

  • No Free Printed Matter shall be left unattended on the Designated Land by Distributors at any time.

  • The area within 150 metres of any distribution point is to be cleansed by Distributors distributing Free Printed Matter of any litter caused by the Free Printed Matter being distributed at regular intervals during, and at the conclusion of, each period of distribution to prevent defacement of the Designated Land.

  • Distributors shall, upon request by any authorised officer of the Council, remove any discarded Free Printed Matter from the Designated Land.

  • The Consent Holder must provide Distributors with adequate training and equipment to enable the removal any discarded Free Printed Matter in accordance with statutory health and safety requirements.

  • Any Free Printed Matter distributed must bear the business name and address of either the Consent Holder or Business that the free printed matter is being distributed on behalf of.

  • The Free Printed Matter shall not encourage illegal or irresponsible behaviour, nor advertise illegal events.

  • Distributors must be informed and/or trained as appropriate, to ensure a comprehensive understanding of this consent, its conditions, and the penalties for non-compliance.

  • The Consent Holder must ensure that Free Printed Matter is distributed by Distributors in accordance with all the foregoing conditions of consent.