The Scottish Grocers’ Federation (SGF) is demanding the Scottish Government intervenes as delays in processing licences as well as inconsistent interpretation of the Licensing (Scotland) Act 2005 by licensing boards threatens to cause unforeseen disruption to retailers.
John Drummond, Chief Executive of SGF said,
“Retailers are anxious and annoyed that with less than a week until the Licensing (Scotland) Act 2005 is fully implemented delays in processing licences by the boards mean many are still waiting for personal and premises licences, some of which were applied for as far back as 2008.
“Through no fault of their own retailers face the possibility of trading illegally on the 1st September which is completely unacceptable. With little or no guidance being issued by the licensing boards, retailers can only hope Licensing Standards Officers will take a common sense approach to enforcement in the coming months.
“In addition inconsistent interpretation of the Act threatens to cause severe disruption to retailers as certain local authorities consider prohibiting some off-trade promotions. Government guidance issued to licensing boards in 2007 suggests this type of promotional activity was never intended to be prohibited through off-sales.
“Measures to end “irresponsible promotions” should be coordinated with the Scottish Government’s other plans to be published in a new alcohol bill due out later this year. In the interests of businesses and consumers there must be a moratorium on further restrictions until the outcome of the new Bill is known.
“If the Scottish Government’s claims to be the friend of small businesses are true, they must step in and issue clear and unambiguous guidance to local licensing boards immediately.”