GLASGOW licensing board’s decision to extend standard Sunday trading hours for pubs to 11am is not an automatic blanket extension for all premises, the trade has been told.
Police, trade groups, licensing lawyers and the board have moved to remind operators they must apply to the board to vary their licence if they want to take advantage of the earlier opening time.
The board amended its policy statement to extend standard hours for on-sales to 11am to midnight, Monday to Sunday; the previous opening time for pubs on Sundays was 12.30pm.
But licensees are being reminded that the amendment does not automatically increase operating hours – those wishing to trade from 11am on Sundays must apply to the board for a major variation, which costs £160.
SLTA chief executive Paul Waterson said the decision was a “vote of confidence in pubs”, but criticised the £160 charge.
“It brings into question again the fees and what we’re paying,” he said. “There will be a new board in Glasgow [after the elections] – what if they decide to revert to the original hours? Do we need to pay another £160 for another variation?”
SBPA boss Patrick Browne welcomed the move – and called on the remaining six boards that have retained 12.30pm Sunday opening to follow suit.
“It will be to the benefit of visitors to Glasgow and sports fans given the issues surrounding Sunday football,” he said. “But it is not a general extension; operators must apply to the board.”
Inspector Tim Ross, of Strathclyde Police, said the force worked with the trade ahead of last Sunday’s (April 29) Old Firm game to ensure licensees “did not unwittingly breach the conditions of their licence”.
“To date, I’m not aware of any particular problems in that regard,” he said.
Stephen McGowan, director of licensing and gambling at Lindsays solicitors, said: “I would remind licensees not to presume this is a rubber stamp as the applications will be open to objections, conditions and ultimately refusal,” he said.
A spokesman for the board said: “On-sales premises will now be eligible to apply to have their Sunday opening hours varied in line with the new policy.”