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Ensuring a sustainable and prosperous convenience industry in Scotland

Licensing Act 2005 Fails to Tackle Problem Drinking Whilst Threatening to Damage Future of Small Shops

On the first anniversary of the full implementation of the Licensing (Scotland) Act 2005 the Scottish Grocers’ Federation (SGF) continues to reiterate its concerns that operating different licensing regimes across the country, often with different fee structures and conditions, has resulted in needless costs, additional regulations and delays for small shops, whilst failing to address the issues surrounding binge and chronic drinking in Scotland.

John Drummond, Chief Executive of SGF said:

“We believe the Licensing (Scotland) Act has failed to address the societal issues covered by the five licensing objectives whilst placing far too much focus on bureaucracy around licensing in terms of operation plans, layout plans and signage, which retailers must comply with in order to sell alcohol.

“SGF estimate complying with the Act has cost the convenience store sector in Scotland over £16 million and will increase as retailers apply for minor and major variations to their licenses. The cost of variations currently differs significantly from Board to Board and at best can be described as arbitrary, creating a postcode lottery for retailers.

“The impact of licensing fees on small shops compared to supermarkets, which typically will have an alcohol turnover approximately 50 times greater than that of a small shop, are massively disproportionate.

“Consideration of Stage 2 of the Alcohol etc (Scotland) Bill will commence when the Scottish Parliament returns from the summer recess. We can only hope that both politicians and the Scottish Government learn lessons from the Licensing (Scotland) Act 2005 and adopt a national approach ensuring new legislation is proportionate and addresses the cultural issues linked to Scotland’s drinking habits.”