Highland board scraps plastic
By Dave Hunter
HIGHLAND licensing board has been praised for scrapping a policy which forced late night operators to use plastic ‘glasses’.
The board had consulted on the use of plastic containers as part of the review of its licensing policy statement, and had previously drawn fire over proposals to introduce a blanket policy across the Highlands that would require all licensed premises to use plastic containers after 9pm.
However, the board opted to drop this option after the consultation process.
Last week the board voted to scrap its existing policy – which requires all late-opening premises to use plastic containers after 9pm – and introduce a new rule where no premises will be required to use plastic ‘glasses’, unless they have been reported to the board by the police. The system will be introduced in November, when the board’s new policy statement comes in to force.
Speaking to SLTN, Inverness licensee Don Lawson, who owns The Den and Johnny Foxes and is chairman of Inverness Pub Watch, said there was “overwhelming support” for the new policy from the SLTA, Police Scotland, the Scotch Whisky Association and the Highland Licensing Forum.
“I think it was a vote of confidence from the Highland licensing board for the hospitality industry in the Highlands,” he added.
Lawson also singled out councillor Maxine Smith, convener of the board, for praise.
“She’s very supportive of the licensed trade in the Highlands,” he said.
Smith said she felt it was important to “give clubs a chance to prove that they are responsible and safety has moved on”.
“Having seen the stewarding some of these clubs have put in place it is only fair to give them a chance,” she told SLTN.
“Also it was never fair that only clubs were made to have plastic glasses and not bars which stayed open until 1am.
“Now there is a level playing field for all licensees and if there are any issues they will come to the board for review and we will handle them on a case-by-case basis, which is a more evidenced approach.”
The meeting also saw the board vote to amend its policy on trading hours. From November, premises across the Highlands will be able to apply for extended hours on a Sunday – opening an hour earlier, at 11am, and closing an hour later, at 1am.
Meanwhile, Highland licensing board has launched a separate consultation on overprovision.
The document, which was launched last week, focuses on off-sales premises in the area and asks respondents to choose between two options: one that would create a “presumption against” new premises licenses for off-sales across the Highlands, and a second, which would apply that approach only to 12 specific wards in the area.
The consultation will close in October.