Change is not always for the best

By Gillian McKenzie

A CHANGE is as good as a rest, or so the adage goes.

But for many Scottish operators, this year has brought perhaps a bit too much change – at least in terms of the legislative landscape.
Just four years after the 2005 Licensing Act came into force, the trade is facing a fourth piece of legislation in the shape of a new Licensing Bill.
Based on the Scottish Government’s Further Options for Alcohol Licensing consultation, the Bill, which is due to be published before the end of the parliamentary year, is expected to contain a number of new alcohol licensing measures.
The introduction of something similar to the ‘fit and proper person’ test from the 1976 Act and an attempt to clarify some of the uncertainties following the Brightcrew ruling (that the primary function of licensing boards is to regulate alcohol sales) are likely to make the cut.
And it’s not just the Scottish Government that’s been busy reviewing the parameters within which licensees must operate.
Most licensing boards have now put in place their new policy statements, outlining their rules on everything from operating hours to overprovision.
Next year is being trumpeted as a real chance to showcase the very best of Scottish hospitality to the thousands of visitors expected to flock to events like the Ryder Cup and Commonwealth Games – and create a lasting legacy for the industry.
Let’s hope operators aren’t too bogged down getting to grips with yet more legislative change to take full advantage.