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SGF Anger Over Personal Licence Debacle

The Scottish Grocers’ Federation (SGF) is putting pressure on the Scottish Government to intervene over the delay in processing personal licences which could result many retailers being unable to sell alcohol on the 1st September.

With less than six weeks to go until the Licensing (Scotland) Act 2005 comes into force, SGF has been contacted by a number of members still waiting for personal licences to be processed by Licensing Boards, despite some applications being submitted by retailers at the end of 2008. One retail group who applied for 120 personal licenses at the start of 2009 still has 63 outstanding applications.

The Licensing (Scotland) Act 2005, which comes into force on the 1st September 2009, requires a premises licence to have a designated premises manager who must be a personal licence holder. Unless the personal licence has been granted for the premises manager, then on September 1, the store will not be permitted to sell alcohol.

John Drummond, Chief Executive of SGF said,

“We are extremely alarmed by the information we have received from members and have been feeding into discussions with officials from the Scottish Government on this issue.

“The problem is more acute in pockets across Scotland where it appears certain licensing boards have not put in place adequate resources to ensure personal licences are granted in time.

“As well as running the risk of being unable to sell alcohol, the delay in processing personal licences has ramifications for retailers who intended to use a personal licence holder to train fellow members of staff. Under the new Act no person can sell alcohol unless they have received a minimum two hours training. Training for staff can be provided in-house by a personal licence holder or by a training provider. However, if you are not in possession of a personal licence you cannot train staff which means some of our members will now have to incur the additional costs of hiring a training provider.

“This situation is completely unacceptable especially when our members invested considerable resources into ensuring they carried out the licensing application process correctly and responsibly. Unless the Scottish Government steps in and offers a solution many retailers face being unable to sell alcohol on the 1st September which could threaten the future of many businesses.”