The SNP Government brought in its new licensing laws yesterday, the net result is that several licensed premises have been forced to either shut, or open illegally across the country. One of the worst hits areas was North Lanarkshire where 25 premises were forced to shut.
Some of those affected have said that their renewal claims were in before the 28 February cut off under which the licensing board, within 182 days, is legally obliged to consider an application. The fact that some of these have merely been told to remain shut until further notice after 6 months of consideration shows a failure on the behalf of certain licensing boards. Those being punished for their slackness should not be the licensee, in most cases they appear to have done everything by the book, but the boards’ failures to comply to their requirements under the law.
Frankie O'Connor, whose wife is licensee of The Clock Bar in Coatbridge, said:
"My business is now closing through no fault whatsoever of my own. I submitted my application last October, paid around £5000 for the privilege of selling alcohol after today but am now being told I'll have to close until they get around to processing my application.
"This is because of their processes, not me, but it will be me and my staff suffering. There's no consistency here. It's taken four years to get to this point and there's not a man who hasn't made a mistake but in no other area are they being shut down.
"There's a chain here. I suffer, my staff suffer, their families and the people in the supply chain suffer. That's aside from our regulars."
Elsewhere is off licenses there is still confusion over the new laws it was initially though that that promotions in shops were not to be targeted however Gavin Partlington, a spokesman for the Wine and Spirit Trade Association, has said:
"In the last few days we've had evidence from local licensing officers and the police that shops offering things like three bottles of wine for a tenner now won't be allowed to because of the legislation.
"Our fear is that consumers are not aware of how they may be affected by this legislation, depending on how different licensing boards interpret it.
"The reason is that we've not had specific up-to-date guidance from the Scottish Government."
It is possible that the SNP have given us a headline grabbing campaign against binge drinking but have been so vague on the details of the legislation they pushed through. So vague indeed that they themselves are now unable to give guidance to those that are required to enact the legislation. Heaven be it for me to point fingers but one of the reason that people are often unable to organise a p*** up in brewery is because they forget about the detail, all the requirements are there in place just the lack of planning and foresight.