Will Bill call time on licensing reform?

By Gillian McKenzie

IT was billed as a piece of legislation designed to ‘tidy up’ bits of the 2005 Licensing Act which weren’t quite working as intended – and issues that remained after two subsequent Acts (the Criminal Justice and Licensing Act and the Alcohol Act).

And the Air Weapons and Licensing (Scotland) Bill does, on the face of it, propose to address some of the points.
It suggests scrapping the existing five year ‘ban’ on reapplying for a personal licence which has been revoked for failure to complete refresher training or notify the board within the correct time frame.
The removal of what many consider a fairly harsh punishment will be welcomed by the trade, although it is too little too late for the thousands of PLHs facing the August 31 refresher training deadline.
A proposal which would have given police and boards the power to close pubs in certain areas around football matches, which was suggested in the consultation, has been dropped, which will also be welcomed by many in the trade.
Other proposals in the Bill include the return of a ‘fit and proper’ person test – although a definition has yet to be provided; and a measure that would allow licensing boards to deem their entire area overprovided.
However, several points, including the mechansim for transfering licences, have not been addressed.
It remains to be seen how the Bill is reshaped as it progresses through parliament, but it seems the fourth piece of legislation in as many years might not tie up all of the loose ends.

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