UK: Licensing News Scotland - April 2017

Last Updated: 25 May 2017
Article by Stephen McGowan

House of Lord's Committee reviewing alcohol licensing in England and Wales offers critique of Scottish alcohol laws

A House of Lords Committee (HoLC) has completed its review the Licensing Act 2003.  This is the legislation in England and Wales which governs the sale of alcohol.  In their report the HoLC makes some comments that will be of interest to Scottish licensees.  These include:

  • the HoLC noted the economic importance of the hospitality and retail trade
  • the HoLC rejected calls for the adoption of a fifth licensing objective of protecting and promoting public health (England a Wales' licensing objectives are similar to Scotland's save for the fact they do not have a health objective).  Whilst the HoLC recognised health and wellbeing as a necessary and desirable aim in alcohol strategy, they resolved that it is not appropriate as a licensing objective.  They could not see how protecting health could be causally linked to individual premises or applications.
  • the HoLC recommended that the "Agent of Change" principal should be a consideration in licensing, thus on the one hand safeguarding existing licensed premises when new houses and developments are built but on the other, safeguarding existing residential areas from change of use.
  • the HoLC saw the potential benefits of Minimum Unit Pricing (MUP) but stated that England and Wales should only follow Scotland if MUP is proven to be effective
  • the HoLC recommended mirroring Scotland's restrictions which apply to the off-trade regarding restricting advertising and banning multi-buy discounts.

New rates apply to National Living Wage

Most workers employed in the licensed hospitality and retail sector are entitled to The National Minimum Wage.  The rates as at 1 April 2017 for the year ahead are:

  • £7.50 per hour - 25 years +
  • £7.05 per hour - 21-24 years
  • £5.60 per hour - 18-20 years

City of Edinburgh Council launches two Civic Licensing Consultation on Taxis and on Late Hours Catering Deliveries

Edinburgh Council is considering introducing an age limit for its licensed Taxis and Private Hire Cars to improve vehicle standards and reduce emissions.

Suggestions on how to achieve this are one of the following and once a resolution is made it would mean amending the conditions of taxi and PHC licences accordingly.  Views are sought on whether it should be done by -

a) introducing an age limitation in respect of taxis and private hire cars; or

b) introducing an incremental increase in the minimum emissions standards for the engines in these vehicles

To respond go to the consultation hub.

The Consultation closes 2 June 2017.

Secondly, the Council is currently undertaking a consultation to identify any further changes which are considered necessary in terms of late hours catering.

In 2016 the Council consulted on a number of proposed changes to their Late Hours Catering Policy. During the consultation process the Committee was asked if they would consider extending the policy to allow premises that operate with a Late Hour Catering Licence to operate a "delivery only" service after the premises were closed to members of the public.

They are now inviting views and the consultation, which closes on 19th May 2017.

Invitation to comment on the Gambling Commission business plan for 2017/18

The Gambling Commission has published its business plan for 2017/2018 outlining its focus and priorities in key areas for the next financial year.

The Commission will focus on five key areas:

  • empowering and protecting consumers
  • raising standards across all gambling sectors
  • building partnerships and understanding
  • ensuring fair play on the National Lottery
  • improving regulation.

The Commission is also seeking the views of key stakeholders on their future strategy. Given the likely changes in the way the Gambling Commission enforces against operators, in particular in relation to protecting the young and vulnerable from gambling, it is a good time for the industry to ensure its voice is heard.

The commission have stated that they are looking for suggestions on how to:

"...improve how we deliver our core responsibilities. There is also a need to build and maintain consumer trust against the back drop of changing consumer behaviour. To do this, we wish to encourage the industry to be increasingly innovative to continue to keep gambling safe, fair and crime free."

Further information can be found on their website.

Out and about

March signalled the beginning of the end for many of Scotland's licensing boards, or at least boards as we know them.  With the Local Authority Elections scheduled for 4 May many boards will have a hiatus to allow Councillors to campaign pre-election and thereafter, to allow for the nomination and training of the new licensing board members post-election.  With our usual gusto we have represented clients at the following – North Lanarkshire; South Lanarkshire (EK); West Dunbartonshire; Falkirk; East Dunbartonshire; Glasgow; Edinburgh; Dundee and Highland Licensing Boards/ Committees.

In addition, Niall attended SIBA's BeerX Conference in Sheffield and sampled several SIBA Regional Champion Beers (a tough job but someone has to do it!).

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

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