The dark nights are drawing in and the clocks go back at the end of this month… it can mean only one thing: it is almost Christmas time once again! But what does this time of year mean for the licensed trade?
The festive period always brings an increase in footfall to restaurants, bars, pubs and clubs across the country – it is the season to be jolly after all. Many premises wish to take advantage of this peak season by opening later throughout the festive period. Some of the country’s 32 Licensing Boards facilitate this by offering premises ‘festive extensions’. However, to take advantage of such extensions, the vast majority of Boards require this to be mentioned in the operating plan which forms part of a premises licence.
The Operating Plan lists all of the activities which may take place on the premises, as well as the times alcohol will be sold for consumption either on or off the premises. Question 4 of the Operating Plan allows operators to indicate whether they wish to take advantage of such extensions.
Generally, where a premises has answered ‘yes’ to question 4, the premises will automatically be allowed to open later in line with the local Board’s policy. Policies vary across the country and can change from year to year so make sure to check what extensions you might be entitled to. When festive extensions are available, the hours permitted may also vary depending on the type of premises; be that a restaurant through to late-opening venues such as night-clubs.
If your premises is not entitled to automatic seasonal extensions, or you would like to open later on a date not within your Board’s policy, it may still be possible by way of an Extended Hours application. Again, policies on these differ from Board to Board across the country so it’s important to check what hours are likely to be granted, how far in advance you must apply etc.
Premises should also be aware that Police Scotland and Licensing Standards Officers increase their routine visits to licensed premises to ensure compliance over this period. With this in mind, if you are unsure about any element of your licence, compliance with legislation, or how to take advantage of festive extensions, contact our expert team of expert licensing lawyers (www.mshblicensing.com), who are available on 0141 221 1919.