THE chair of a forum for the licensed trade and Police Scotland has hailed the “real progress” being made by the group.
Nightclub owner Donald MacLeod, who set up the National Trade Forum a little over a year ago, said regular meetings with the force are helping to build a “stronger more reliable relationship with the police”.
MacLeod said the group, which includes operators from across Scotland, licensing lawyers and trade group representatives, has made progress in a number of areas, including giving input on licensing training and police communications with the trade, attending a Bystander training day for officers at Tulliallan, and receiving an in-depth demonstration of Police Scotland’s Innkeeper national licensing database.
Forum members have also discussed a range of operational issues with police, including inconsistencies in approach in different parts of the country and the impact high profile football fixtures can have on the trade.
“To have the Old Firm game on Hogmanay was madness and there’s no doubt it had an impact,” said MacLeod.
“We didn’t get that game changed but we’re at the table and we’ve been told that we’ll be included in future discussions about major football fixtures.
“I think that is an achievement in getting agreement that when there are contentious fixtures like this there will be discussion with the licensed trade and the wider hospitality sector. I think a lot of that’s down to the forum.
“We’ve had discussion about things like Innkeeper and police training and that is another achievement – the fact we are discussing these things.
“There’s a way to go but at least we’ve started climbing the ladder. We’re getting round the table about these things now and that didn’t used to happen.”
MacLeod said he is keen to build on the momentum and urged members of the trade to get involved and interact with the forum.
“The forum has made real progress and I hope that continues,” he added.
“I’m encouraged that the police have taken up the baton and shown an understanding of some of the problems the trade faces. There is a willingness to work together and long may that continue.
“We are all now keen to get together and discuss those important matters.
“We want to hear from other operators, if they want to be part of it or raise any issues by all means get in touch. It’s there for the trade.”