It’s good to talk

THE war of words that broke out last week between the Association of Scottish Police Superintendents and the convener of Glasgow licensing board served to underline the need for greater dialogue between all parties when it comes to licensing.

Chief superintendent David O’Connor’s call for the chief constable to be given greater powers “if licensing boards are unable to make the tough decisions” was met with a robust response from Glasgow board convener Malcolm Cunning, who said his comments displayed an “apparent, even wilful, ignorance of the licensing regime and the legal powers of licensing boards”.
As SLTA chief Paul Waterson pointed out, tension between various stakeholders is nothing new. But this latest spat again highlights the need for a national forum where all parties can gain a greater understanding of each other’s roles and responsibilities and have a say in policy.
The formation of such a body is in the early stages.
The National Licensing Advisory Committee was set up by the Scottish Government Alcohol Industry Partnership earlier this year to replace the National Licensing Forum, which disbanded in 2007. It’s inviting a broad range of agencies to get involved.
Yes, there will be differences of opinion. That is a given.
But on many issues, there will be times when different groups are singing from the same hymn sheet.
And that’s why discussion is key.