Plea for hours consistency

Licensee calls for ‘level playing field’ between boards

By Dave Hunter

A SOUTH Lanarkshire licensee has called for greater consistency between licensing boards when it comes to trading hours.

As boards across Scotland draw up their new licensing policy statements, Lynn Adams, who runs the George bar in Hamilton, said inconsistent approaches to trading hours in neighbouring areas could prove damaging to the trade.
“You can have two local authorities right next to each other [with different operating hours],” she said.
“In our case we’ve got it between South Lanarkshire and North Lanarkshire. The premises in [the Hamilton division of] South Lanarkshire can have a late night one night of the weekend, but North Lanarkshire allows the pubs to have both nights.
“So when there’s a boundary between north and south, and there’s a pub on one side of the road and one on the other, the one in South Lanarkshire has a disadvantage.”
Adams’ comments come after Glasgow licensing board revealed plans to consider allowing pubs to open until 1am seven nights a week, as part of its licensing policy statement consultation.
“If people were to start heading into Glasgow and not using their local bars, restaurants, cafes whatever, it could have a very detrimental effect on your local businesses in the evening economy,” said Adams.
“It’s safe to say they would struggle quite considerably.”
However, Adams stressed that she was not arguing for Glasgow premises to be denied a 1am terminal hour.
“It’s not that I’m against Glasgow getting one o’clock,” she said.
“It’s more that in the outlying town centres the boards should look at their hours and make them a level playing field so they [licensed premises] are able to compete with the city centre pubs and nightclubs.”
SLTA chief executive Paul Waterson said that while boards should have a certain amount of discretion on hours, “why boards were given complete autonomy on all hours defeats us”.
“Permitted hours should have been kept [in the 2005 Licensing Act],” said Waterson.
“The system for granting extensions to that should have been kept. There could have been consistency.”