The Licensing (Scotland) Act 2005 sets out that Licensing Boards are required to publish their licensing policy every five years and the process usually takes place in the months following the Local Government elections. The purpose of this policy is to provide licensing applicants, community members and other interested parties with an indication of how the Board will manage the sale of alcohol in licenced premises in its areas. The policy will include things like permitted opening hours, children and young person’s access and will identify any areas of overprovision of licensed premises within the Boards locality. The Policy must promote the five licensing objectives.
Before publishing their policies, Boards are required to consult with the Local Licensing Forum, Police Scotland and the local Health Board. Some will send it to Community Councils or organisations representing the interests of the licensed trade. It is important to Licensing Boards that this is not a desktop exercise and that they ascertain the views of as many stakeholders as possible during the process. It is crucial that those involved in the licenced trade engage in consultations to express their views particularly if there are areas they wish to change or retain.
With almost all temporary Covid measures coming to an end, the policy consultations provides a timely opportunity for Boards to consider a change in the hospitality sector and adapt their policies accordingly.
The policy covers a wide range of topics, some areas Boards are expected to focus on are set out as follows:
Whilst Licensing Board policies are not permitted to be drafted in a way that is strictly supportive of alcohol sales, Boards are expected to strike a balance between promoting the licensing objectives and also supporting the hospitality industry and economy. Particularly in the wake of the pandemic and the current economic crisis, Boards would not do well to hinder an already struggling industry. This is why it is essential for licence holders, hospitality staff and any involved in the industry to feedback to the Boards’ information that would help them strike this difficult balance.
We have established a dedicated page on our website with links to all current Policy Consultations. This will be regularly updated. Board policies are due to come to an end in November 2023. Keep a close eye on this page and what is happening in your local area and if you would like assistance in contributing to the consultation please do get in touch and a member of our team will gladly assist you.