Trade training crisis continues

More than 80% of North Ayrshire premises ‘in danger’

By Gillian McKenzie

LICENSEES have been urged to undertake personal licence holder refresher training as soon as possible after it emerged more than 80% of those in North Ayrshire affected by the August 31 deadline have yet to complete courses.

With just seven weeks until the deadline for the first ‘batch’ of PLHs – those who received their licence on or before September 1, 2009 – licensing lawyers and training providers say the number of people yet to complete courses is “frightening”.
Estimates have suggested up to 30,000 PLHs across Scotland must comply with the August 31 deadline and present certificates to their relevant licensing board by December 1; those who fail to do so will automatically have their licence revoked and cannot apply for a new one for five years.
Figures obtained in April by Scottish licensing law journal SLLP revealed a worrying backlog in many parts of Scotland, with some boards confirming they had yet to receive notification from any PLHs who had completed training courses.
And last week, North Ayrshire licensing board confirmed “over 80% of pubs, clubs and restaurants are in danger” because personal licence holder refresher training has not been completed.
“This is obviously a concern with so many premises having failed to complete the training with just two months remaining before the deadline,” said Ronnie McNicol, chair of the licensing board.
The North Ayrshire backlog comes two weeks after Dumfries & Galloway licensing board revealed only 217 out of a total of 967 PLHs had met the deadline so far.
Stephen McGowan, chair of BII Scotland and head of licensing at legal firm TLT, said the number of PLHs yet to undertake refresher training is “frightening” and “must serve as a thundering wake-up call”.
“Every single person in the licensed trade in Scotland must, without delay, be asking themselves, their colleagues and their employees to make sure that courses have been booked,” he said.
“We are talking about the livelihood of thousands of people across Scotland. Action must be taken now.”
Steve Wadelik, of training firm Belendon Hospitality, also urged PLHs to take action.
“In the transition period (2008 to September 2009), about 40,000 people applied for a personal licence; it took 18 months to do that so how will 20,000+ cope in three months?” he said.
“Some people are saying don’t panic, well it’s time to panic now.”