Proposals could bring greater consistency

By Gillian McKenzie

INCREASED bureaucracy and a lack of consistency have been two of the trade’s biggest bugbears since the 2005 Act was first drafted.

The move to give licensing boards greater powers has – as many predicted – led to instances where neighbouring boards have very different views on certain issues.
For operators with outlets in a number of jurisdictions, this patchwork effect has been frustrating.
But it seems a new proposal from the Scottish Government could help address some of these inconsistencies.
A consultation on plans to introduce a ‘primary authority’ system, similar to that which exists in England and Wales, could have significant implications for licensing.
The concept effectively means an operator with outlets in several areas can choose one authority to work with on certain aspects of regulation. The primary authority advises the business on compliance – advice which must be followed by authorities in the other areas in which the business operates.
Such a system has the potential to cut red tape for multiple operators; it could also benefit every licensee if it brings greater consistency and the sharing of best practice between boards.
It remains to be seen whether the proposal gets the go-ahead and exactly how it would work. But any steps towards cutting bureaucracy and creating a more uniform approach must surely be welcomed.