By Gillian McKenzie
In a couple of weeks’ time, licensing boards across Scotland should have their new policy statements in place and operators will know the lay of the land for the next three years.
The documents will outline the parameters on everything from licensed hours to overprovision.
But despite having the same remit, it seems boards have taken very different approaches to the consultation process – and the policies proposed as part of it.
While some boards compiled detailed draft policy statements outlining various proposals, others seemed to employ a ‘you tell us’-style tactic.
And, worryingly, it seems some licensing boards have set consultation deadlines after the end of this month, which is when the final version is supposed to be in place.
Beyond the approach taken to the consultation process, there is huge variation in the policies proposed from one licensing board area to another.
Some have indicated that there is overprovision of licensed premises in the majority of their area, while others have been much more specific.
There are differences when it comes to trading hours, too, with instances where neighbouring authorities have proposed setting quite different parameters.
As SLTA chief Paul Waterson pointed out, hours and overprovision have been contentious issues since long before the 2005 Act was drafted.
Let’s hope for greater consistency going forward.