Background

Under the Licensing (Scotland) Act 2005, every licensing board is required to consult upon, and produce, a local licensing policy. Under law, the policy must seek to promote the licensing objectives. These policies have been in place since the onset of the 2005 Act, back in 2009 and have gone through many changes in each local area as the law and local attitudes and evidence has developed. Nowadays, the policies are updated every five years, in a period following the local council elections after which new licensing boards are appointed. This allows the incoming new members of the board to set their own context to their five-year term.

With the most recent local elections in May 2022, now is the time for the new licensing boards to commence consultation on their new policies.
This webpage will be updated on a regular basis with details of all licensing consultations across Scotland (listed below) so please check back for more information.

What is a licensing policy statement?

The policy statement is a very important document for all stakeholders involved in the world of licensing but particularly so for licence holders as it can be described as a sort of “rulebook” for what to expect from a particular licensing board in terms of how they will do their business and carry out their functions under the 2005 Act. The policy, once confirmed, is therefore a very important part of the licensing process. It will affect all licence holders to some extent and for that reason, this forthcoming period of consultation is an opportunity to help shape the local policy for the next five year period. We urge our clients and all licence holders to be engaged in the process and have your views heard.

What will the policy consultations ask about?

You can anticipate that the policy consultations will cover a wide range of issues. High up each licensing board’s agenda will be to assess and put forward new rules regarding areas such as overprovision, licensed hours, and the use of occasional licences. In the past, licensing boards in different parts of the country have listened to licence holders and flexed their policies to allow additional benefits and trading. Examples of this include those licensing boards who, but for one or two exceptions, all moved away from the old-fashioned 12.30pm start on Sunday trading; or boards who have allowed later terminal hours for pubs. We would also expect the consultations to feature an analysis of the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic such as the rise of the use of outdoor space and home deliveries.

What can licence holders expect?

  • It is possible that licensing boards will seek to change their overprovision “zones”, if any. We anticipate this will be one of the most important features of the new consultations and expect some licensing boards will introduce new areas, or possible seek to strengthen their existing policies.
  • We expect that home delivery of alcohol will be a significant element of the new policy consultations. From even before the pandemic, many retailers had been submitting variations to have specific wording added to their licences to allow home deliveries and many licensing boards will probably seek to introduce specialist conditions
  • Use of occasional licences has grown significantly during the pandemic area especially for outdoor facilities. Certain temporary arrangements in relation to planning permissions and building warrants all expired on 30 September 2022 so many licence holders who are seeking to make these areas permanent will need to take advice. In addition, boards will have to be cognisant of the decision in Keasim Ltd v City of Glasgow Licensing Board [2021] SC GLW 57 which ruled that there not be an “occasion” or “event” to have an occasional licence, and ruled that a policy inhibiting the number of consecutive occasional licences was ultra vires.
  • There may be reactive questioning on current issues in the news, for example in relation to "spiking", and we anticipate some boards may even use the consultation to explore matters which are not linked to the regulation of alcohol, such as employment practices eg discussions around “safe home” policies.

Who will be consulted?

The 2005 Act requires licensing boards to consult with the Local Licensing Forum, licence holders, the NHS and “other persons”. Typically, the licensing board will engage with groups like resident’s associations, the Police, and would hear from a wide variety of organisations including campaign groups like Alcohol Focus Scotland and others. It is extremely important that licence holders engage with the process to ensure their voice is heard. It is important to note that the policy consultation has to follow certain key rules. The policy must be evidence-led, and ultimately, it must be lawful.

What comes next?

The following is our guide to the consultations across all of Scotland, as and when they are announced. We will provide a note of relevant dates and how to respond, as well as providing analysis of the key issues to watch for in each area. This page will be updated on a regular basis so we encourage our clients and the wider licensed trade to come back and check for the ones you have an interest in on a regular basis. TLT will be responding to all consultations on behalf of many clients. If you would like advice on how a policy may affect you, please contact us for a free initial consultation. This list below shows licensing boards only where the consultation has “gone live”, so if you do not see the board you are interested in, please check back on a regular basis.

How to respond

 

Deadline

 

What to look out for

An initial consultation for the Aberdeen policy was conducted over 4 weeks and closed on 14 October 2022. It is anticipated that any views received during this period will influence a proposed face to face “workshop” meeting which is being hosted on 8 November 2022. We would anticipate, therefore, that the licensing board will take into account views raised during the consultation period as well as themes which may emerge from the workshop, before putting a more formal proposal forward.

We anticipate that this board will have lots of feedback in relation to the approach for occasional licences given the board had adopted policy positions as to the acceptance of ongoing occasional licences under certain circumstances, for example in relation to outdoor areas which had become established during the lockdown periods. We also anticipate the board will hear feedback in relation to standard conditions surrounding the provision of music in outdoor areas as this has been discussed at hearings over some months. Further reports will be added here in due course

This licensing board is another which has now instigated a sort of “first phase” consultation to “shape how the revised policy is drafted”. There is an online survey with various questions and polls to answer. The Aberdeenshire board is looking for engagement on licensed hours and overprovision, much like all the other boards will no doubt do too. However they are also seeking views on issues which they see as more germane for discussion within their area such as their own local conditions, and the use of “end-of-aisle” promotions in shops and supermarkets.

The online engagement survey was launched on 7 November 2022 and can be found here: Review of the Aberdeenshire Licensing Board’s Licensing Policy Statement | Engage Aberdeenshire.

The deadline for responses is 6 January 2022. Written responses can be given to the licensing board at Viewmount, Arduthie Road, Stonehaven, AB39 2DQ, or by email to Licensingpolicyreview@aberdeenshire.gov.uk.

The East Dunbartonshire licensing board launched an initial mini-consultation on 24 October 2022. Like many other boards, this is a first step, less formal engagement to seek some early views on the current policy. The views provided as part of this initial phase will help inform the proper, full consultation which the board says is likely to happen in summer 2023. The deadline for responses to this first phase is 9 January 2023 and responses should be emailed to liquor.licensing@eastdunbarton.gov.uk or in writing to The Clerk of the Licensing Board, East Dunbartonshire Council, 12 Strathkelvin Place, Kirkintilloch G66 1TJ. There are a number of things to watch for in this area. Like most licensing boards, we anticipate there will be a full re-assessment of overprovision. There are only two current localities in East Dunbartonshire in which an overprovision zone exists, namely Hillhead in Kirkintilloch, and the Kirkintilloch West area, and in both cases this relates to off-sales only.

The East Dunbartonshire board is one of the few which created a new “supplementary” policy during the past five years. In September 2021, this board created a new policy to allow 1am for on-sales premises by way of major variation application but this was linked to “evidence of a commitment to ongoing staff training and social responsibility, including late night transport arrangements for staff". This will be re-examined in the new consultation. This board has also indicated it is going to look very closely at the issue of home deliveries, saying “the Board has noted that in recent years more and more premises are seeking permission to deliver alcohol to customers”. You can expect that the consultation may result in new conditions being proposed in relation to deliveries. Lastly, the board has signposted it wishes to look at “entertainment” premises and the descriptions of such premises. The existing policy refers to “snooker” and “tenpin bowling”. There is a separate category for nightclubs. There is clearly a desire to revisit this.

The existing policy, and existing supplementary policy (on 1am opening), can be found here: https://www.eastdunbarton.gov.uk/business/licensing-permits/statement-licensing-policy

Like the other boards, East Lothian have started their process with a sort of pre-consultation phase, seeking views on the existing policy. This initial phase was announced on 3 November 2022. The East Lothian licensing board has also flagged that, in addition to any general views, they are asking for views on certain particular subjects which include: licensing hours, extensions, access to premises by children and young persons, occasional licences, overprovision, outside areas, and home deliveries. As noted in our introduction above, these appear to be some of the key areas we can expect to see across all of Scotland, and not just in East Lothian. The deadline for consultation responses for view on the existing policy is 21 December 2022 and is via an online platform, here: https://eastlothianconsultations.co.uk/council-resources/east-lothian-licensing-board-consultation-review-o/.

The existing policy, which covers the period 2018 to 2023, can be viewed here:  East Lothian Licensing Board | East Lothian Council.

How to respond

https://consultationhub.edinburgh.gov.uk/cg/licensing-board-policy-consultation

Please email your views and suggestions on the Statement of Licensing policy to: licensing.consultation@edinburgh.gov.uk

Deadline

20 December 2022

What to look out for

Edinburgh Licensing Board has begun its informal consultation on updating its Statement of Licensing Policy which will be in place from 2023, for the following five year period. The Board seeks input and views from as many people as possible and asks, first off for views to be given on the terms of the existing Statement of Policy.

The Board are particularly interested in ingathering opinion on some key areas:-

  • Current licensed hours – particularly for premises providing on sales (Chapter 11)
  • Extension of licensed hours – use of Extended Hours applications, and the extension of hours during the Festival and festive periods (Chapters 5 and 11)
  • Children and young persons access to on sales licensed premises (Chapter 11)
  • Temporary licensing – including the use of occasional licences for one off events or short periods, and the ability to apply for an unlimited number of these (Chapter 5)
  • Overprovision – whether certain streets or communities, or areas of the City have too many licensed premises, in terms of numbers and capacity of licensed premises (Chapter 8)

Further, they seek contributions relating to changes to aspects of the current policy or additions for the new policy.  Responses should be submitted by 20th December 2022. 

Falkirk Licensing Board announced an open consultation seeking views on the current policy on 16 September 2022. The board has asked all stakeholders or interested persons to provide feedback on the current policy by 8 December 2022. There is no online consultation form to complete, instead, any feedback or comments should simply be emailed to licensing@falkirk.gov.uk.

One of aspects we believe will attract attention in this licensing board jurisdiction is the question of home deliveries of alcohol and “click and collect” services. This is something which has exercised this licensing board with certain applications attracting concerns especially in relation to the use of third party companies to deliver alcohol, and the use of “apps”. We anticipate that this is an area in which this licensing board might seek to introduce new bespoke local conditions to capture any concerns they have about the provision of these types of activities. The current “window” allows anyone to raise any issue. We shall report in due course what comes of this, and what any new proposals may look like.

As of late October/early November 2022, a pre-consultation exercise is being conducted by the Glasgow board. After this exercise has been completed the Glasgow Board intends to hold evidence sessions with a cross section of those who have taken part in the exercise. The Board also intends to hold a number of engagement sessions with representatives of the licensed trade, community and resident groups in order to hear as many views as possible. After this, the Board will prepare a draft of a new Licensing Policy Statement. This draft will be issued for public consultation. We will update further once that is available.

Inverclyde were out the traps fast, with an initial consultation on their current policy which ended back in March 2022. This was an open-ended request to feed back on any issue under the current policy. No doubt the board is now taking any themes which that process has raised under consideration, and we await publication of any further details on what the new proposed policy will look like.

One issue TLT raised in the March consultation was on the matter of delegated powers. We suggested applications for extended hours and occasional licences could be determined by way of written submissions, as other boards do, where time is tight and there may be no space in the committee diary to organise a hearing, if the application has attracted representations. Our view was that it is preferable for applicants in that scenario that a determination be reached on the merits, rather than the application not be considered at all, where a hearing cannot be convened. Further detail will appear here when available.

Written by

Stephen, McGowan

Stephen McGowan

GET IN TOUCH

RELATED INSIGHTS AND EVENTS

View all