The Herald

Falkirk faces action over pub licensing hours

- GERRY BRAIDEN gerry.braiden@theherald.co.uk

A SECOND local authority could face legal action after being accused of breaching Scotland’s new liquor legislatio­n.

The largest hospitalit­y industry lobbying group north of the border, the Scottish Beer and Pub Associatio­n, has warned Falkirk Licensing Board that it “will have no hesitation in seeking (legal) redress” over its failure to come up with a definite policy on the hours public houses in the area can open.

It follows confirmati­on on Friday that the SBPA has been given the go-ahead by the Court of Session to serve a writ on the Glasgow Licensing Board seeking a judicial review of its policy, which the Pub Associatio­n claims is ultra vires (acting beyond its legal powers) in parts.

Both rows come just one month after the beginning of the process to phase in the Licensing (Scotland)Act 2005, and followwarn­ings from legal practition­ers and those in the hospitalit­y trade that, with 40plus interpreta­tions of the act being put into policy by boards across the country, it was only a matter of time before there was legal action.

Although all areas of Scotland were required by the government and parliament to have their policies completed by last November, Falkirk launched a second consultati­on last month with a view to testing the waters on its desire to shut all pubs by 11pm.

That “trading hours” consultati­on closed on Friday, a full three months after the completed policy was required, and the outcome has yet to be made public.

The first batch of applicatio­ns required by the new act for venues to gain a licence have to be lodged with the Falkirk board on Friday, without any policy statement to guide them.

Meanwhile, hospitalit­y trade sources claim that one of Scotland’s leading tourism destinatio­ns is on the cusp of becoming an “alcohol-free desert”.

They claim that in the region of 15 hotels in Argyll, where alcohol is mainly served with meals, are looking to either let their current licences expire or are looking to sell up and get out of the hospitalit­y trade, owing to the cost and disruption of transferri­ng to the new regime.

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