Update of the Licensing (Procedure) (Scotland) Regulations 2007: summary of responses

Summary of responses to a consultation on updating secondary legislation which sets out procedural matters related to the Licensing (Scotland) Act 2005.

Question 1 Responses

17. The first question in the consultation asked;

Should the provisions in the current Licensing (Procedure) (Scotland) Regulations 2007, specifically relating to neighbour notifications, be updated?

☐ Yes
☐ No

18. The respondents were firstly asked to answer “Yes” or “No” to question 1.
Thirty eight of whom replied “Yes” and eleven said “No”. One of the respondents did not respond to this question.

19. They were thereafter asked to explain their answer giving consideration to the following:

  • Are the current provisions relating to neighbour notifications fit for purpose?
  • In what way should parts relating to neighbour notifications be amended?
  • What would be the likely impact for local communities, the trade and the public?

20. There were forty seven responses to this part of the question.

There were some general comments received within the responses to this question, which mainly related to issues about the licensing regime and community engagement in general, such as the examples in the paragraph below . There were also submissions about neighbour notification arrangements in general (paragraph 22) and some more specific comments were received in respect of particular provisions within the regulations (paragraphs 23 to 36).

21. General comments in response to question 1

  • UK Hospitality stated “Alcohol licensing has gone through numerous changes since the introduction of the Licensing (Scotland) Act 2005. Changes have been made via the Alcohol etc. (Scotland) Act 2010, Criminal Justice and Licensing (Scotland) Act 2010, and most recently the Air Weapons and Licensing (Scotland) Act 2015. In addition to this primary legislation, the licensing regime is also affected by a range of secondary legislation.

    Such regular changes and amendments to the licensing system creates uncertainty for both operators of licensed businesses and those responsible for enforcing the regime. We are of the view that enough amendments have been made to licensing, and are not supportive of further changes – especially without a strong evidence base.

    We believe that continuing certainty for licensed businesses and enforcers is beneficial for the effective operation of the licensing regime in Scotland, and a focus on partnership working between the trade, local communities, police, and licensing boards is the best way forward rather than continued changes to licensing legislation”.
  • Alcohol Focus Scotland (AFS) highlighted that during the passage of the Air Weapons and Licensing (Scotland) Act 2015, the Cabinet Secretary for Justice, Michael Matheson, commented that he was aware of work on community engagement commissioned by the Glasgow Centre for Population Health, and wanted this work to be taken into account when the procedure regulations were being reviewed. AFS also provided the findings of that community engagement work, to help evidence their response to this consultation.

22. General comments re neighbour notifications

The following organisations and an individual made general comments about neighbour notifications. The first two organisations are content that the procedure regulations are wholly sufficient and fit for purpose, whereas the individual respondent and another organisation believe that they should be amended:

  • It is the view of West Dunbartonshire Licensing Board that the current provisions relating to neighbour notifications are wholly sufficient, in that any person directly affected by the operation of licensed premises is notified of any application, and any other person who might have an interest in the premises can be notified of the application either via the site notice requirement and also via the Council’s Website. In addition, the current system does not add any unnecessary burden on Licensing Board staff and has operated well since the transition to the 2005 Act commenced in 2008.
  • The Scottish Beer and Pub Association are firmly of the view that the current provisions are fit for purpose, in that they provide a necessary balance between informing local residents of developments in their locale, without unduly negatively impacting economic growth and job creation.

“We believe the current procedures for neighbour notifications to provide adequate awareness of licensing changes in the local area and would warn that any changes could be disruptive to licensees, costing potential investment and jobs.

Scotland’s on-trade, the majority of which are small businesses, are already facing a host of economic challenges and pressures which is impacting the viability of running a pub, adding to the administrative burden and prospect of further delays would not be welcomed.

Furthermore, while we appreciate and support the drive towards greater community engagement - pub’s after all, are hubs of communities across the country - but it is unclear what potential benefits would be derived from changes while the negatives are clear to see”.

  • An individual respondent stated “I have worked in the licensing Section for around 10 years or so and feel as though the current procedure, although well intended, is not fit for purpose”.
  • Scottish Health Action on Alcohol Problems (SHAAP) stated “Yes, they should be updated, because the current provisions relating to neighbour notifications do not provide for sufficient levels of community consultation and input. The regulations relating to neighbour notifications should be amended to help support improved community engagement; in particular, by making improvements to matters such as notification distances, notification timescales and signage. Similar consideration should also be given to the accessibility of information which is posted online”.

23. Specific comments re particular regulations related to neighbour notifications

Regulations 3, 4, 6, 7, 8, 9 and 18 of the Procedure Regulations outline provisions on neighbour notifications, and the following comments on those provisions were made by respondents.

24. Regulation 3 - Meaning of “notifiable interest”

  • Two respondents suggested the meaning of “notifiable interest” should be extended to include the owner of the land, rather than just the occupier of the land. One of those responses was from a community council and suggested changing the wording to “…if that person is the owner or occupier of that land."

The same community council highlighted that this may be particularly important in rural areas where Landowners may not be the 'occupier' of the neighbouring land but may have relevant interest in the application and would wish to be notified (e.g. developers, farmers, etc.). The other response was from an individual who suggested that “ whilst it can be difficult to know the exact ownership of land in rural areas, more can be done to ensure all those with an interest are notified - for example, a requirement that if ownership is unknown, a notice is attached at all entry ways to the land”.

  • Two other responses, from a local authority council and an individual, suggested that in addition to notifying those included in Section 21(1)(a) of the Licensing (Scotland) Act 2005, such as the community council, the relevant health board, the police etc. that now that there are other active community groups operating there may be an opportunity to widen this aspect of the notification process to consult with wider groups, such as local area partnerships, where those are established.

25. In addition to the above, the following comments in relation to regulation 3 were included in submissions from respondents while answering Question 2.

  • The Scottish Community Safety Network think “a natural consequence of changing the definition of 'neighbour' - is on the definition of 'notifiable interest'. Those with 'notifiable interest' should be more than individuals that "occupy that land"”.
  • West Lothian Licensing Board stated “Clarification of the current scope of this regulation would be welcomed by the Board. There is no definition provided in the regulation (or elsewhere) of what categories of person would fall to be considered as the 'occupier' of land. For example do the following categories fall to be considered within the scope of the regulation as 'occupier of that land':-
    • A landlord of a property that lies empty
    • The owner of land that lies unoccupied

Where a tenant is in place for any given plot of land, is the 'occupier of the land' the tenant? or is it the landlord or is it both? How is 'occupation' determined - is it by virtue of use or is it by virtue of ownership?

If landlords are not deemed to have a 'notifiable interest' consideration should be given as to whether this should be reconsidered given that landlords have a legitimate interest in matters affecting their property. Of course any widening of the scope of the regulation will inevitably increase administrative costs for the Board in processing applications due to an increased number of potential 'neighbours' that will be involved in the process. In addition, this would involve the Board in the meeting the cost of checking the land register more frequently. Any such increase would need to be accompanied by improved guidance from the Government to promote a better understanding of the licensing system amongst the wider public. Given the current climate of financial restraint affecting local government the Board would be extremely concerned at any changes to the regulations that resulted in an increased administrative and cost burden on the Council. The Board would observe that, in turn, this would place a pressure on the Board to recoup such increased costs through the fees charged to applicants and premises licence holders”.

26. Regulation 4 - Meaning of “Neighbouring land”

Thirty two respondents made comments specifically about this particular regulation when answering question 1, which included -

Twenty two of those respondents who were in favour of extending the distance stated in the meaning of “neighbouring land” (currently “within 4 metres”) and provided comments/explanations for their answer, which included some suggesting –

  • a rigid distance is not feasible in more remote towns or villages.
  • the distance should be widened to include properties across the street.
  • it would benefit the community to extend as licensed premises may have an impact on residents within a wider distance.
  • there should be no barrier of distance for objectors involved as you could still be affected by antisocial behaviour from a premises in the next street.
  • smoking on the street outside the premises can cause extra noise and disruption well beyond the 4 metre zone.
  • should be broadened to ensure all properties that share a physical boundary with the proposed licensed premises.
  • too restrictive and woefully inadequate.
  • especially in densely populated residential tenemented areas.
  • there is no requirement to vary this definition in relation to the scale, capacity and purpose of a licensed premise or to the proposed opening hours.
  • Alcohol Focus Scotland commented that “4 metres is reflective of the traditional approach to licensing that focused on town centre disorder and on - licence premises. Alcohol consumption and purchasing patterns have changed dramatically over the past few decades”.
  • East Ayrshire Licensing Board commented that there have been occasions where they have been contacted by neighbours (outwith 4m) who thought they should have received notification of an application
  • the City of Edinburgh Licensing Board intimated that it has sent neighbour notifications to all properties within 10 metres for a number of years.

Several suggestions were made by respondents in respect of alternative options, which included having a more flexible approach, suggestions of specific potential distances from the premises or utilising particular types of areas which are already defined to assist in the determination of who should be notified, such as -

  • A range of proposed distances from 10 metres (Taking account of neighbours across the road) to an 800 metre zone (compliant with some academic studies in their measurements of availability).
  • within a defined geographical boundary such as a datazone or postcode.
  • the Scottish Indicator of Multiple Deprivation zone which the licensed application is in.
  • a smaller radius for commercial areas/city centres (although still always greater than 4m), and a larger radius for rural and remote areas. This could be determined, for example, using the Scottish Government Urban Rural Classification.

Other respondents comments included -

  • a statement from Renfrewshire Licensing Board which said “should the radius be increased, the Board would be concerned if this were to a radius of 50 metres, as was proposed for inclusion in Dr. Simpson’s Bill in 2015. Given the likely administration occasioned by an increase in the radius, particularly in built up areas, the Board is of the view that, if it is felt an increase in the radius is required, this should be restricted to no more than 20 metres, which is the radius used in the planning regime. The Board also considers that such an increase should only apply to new premises licence applications and not to applications for major variation.
  • a submission from a community council who noted that “Planning Legislation Neighbourhood Notification and Publicity sets a limit of 20 metres. (Planning Circular 3/2013: Regulation 18). It is unclear why Licensinq Regulations specify a much smaller radius than planning. To be truly effective we recommend that the licensing notification zone should be increased to 100 metres. We also recommend that any new notification zone should take into account the capacity, scale, activities (e.g. live and recorded music) and licensed hours, both on and off sale in licensing applications”.

Ten of the respondents who specifically mentioned this regulation felt that there was no need to update this particular provision and provided comments/explanations for their answer, which included -

  • entirely fit for purpose and should not be increased.
  • do not see the need for any amendments as in my community the situation is acceptable.
  • adequate as stands.
  • see no need to change.
  • believe the current neighbour notifications are sufficient.
  • the current four metres distance is reasonable and proportionate.
  • any increase to the 4m neighbour definition would be unwieldy and arguably would not add anything to the process.

Many of these ten respondents highlighted resource and cost implications, which included comments such as –

  • this could cause a massive additional burden on Licensing Board staff, in particular when considering major variation applications.
  • significant and detrimental impact on Licensing Board staff.
  • substantially increase the administrative burden on local authorities at a time of increased pressure on local government budgets.
  • would increase the burden on the already stretched resources of local authority teams who deal with the administration of the licensing system.
  • in some town centre areas extending the four metre rule even by a small distance would lead to significantly increased administrative costs due in the most part to the ever increasing costs of postage.
  • West Dunbartonshire Licensing Board intimated that “the important task of ensuring that neighbours are notified of applications is carried out by Licensing Standards Officers. If the 4m level was to be increased, this would increase the number of notifications that would require to be carried out, thus distracting Officers attention from other duties” and also said that it was “not aware of any documented cases where the current level has been shown to be insufficient, or where the rights of any party have been restricted as a result of the 4m level”.
  • The Law Society of Scotland highlighted that an extension was previously proposed and scrutinised by Parliament when the Licensing (Scotland) Act 2005 Act was originally debated and a 50m square radius was rejected. In urban city centres, this could mean sending up to 500 letters and they considered this an unfair burden to impose.
  • An individual respondent posed the question “would there be funding to support this increased workload - who would supply this?”, whilst another Licensing Board suggested that the resource implications would inevitably have to be passed on to applicants and licence holders by way of increased fees.
  • Perth and Kinross Council suggested the regulations require to be updated, stating “Remove the requirement for neighbourhood notification as the application is advertised on the web and also a site notice is displayed which is sufficient. Alternatively put the onus back on the applicant and they should notify the neighbourhood and provide evidence of this”.

27. In addition to the above, the following comment in relation to regulation 4 was provided by a West Lothian Licensing Board while answering Question 2.

  • “The Board notes that any widening of the scope of the regulation, by

increasing the four metre rule, would inevitably increase administrative costs for the Board in processing applications due to an increased number of potential 'neighbours' that will be involved in the process”.

28. Regulation 6 - Publicity to applications

Respondents made comments specifically about this particular regulation, which included –

  • suggestions from an individual that publicity should “Incorporate a more 'digital' approach when informing people within that vicinity” and from a community council who stated “Publicity requirements for licensing applications need to be radically overhauled to fully utilise digital advances and developments since 2005”.

However, some respondents expressed concerns regarding the use of websites. suggesting that they often provide a plethora of information, which is very useful but it can be very difficult to navigate and find exactly what you are looking for.

  • One respondent recommend that the advertising of licence applications on local council websites should be more prominent, for example, featured on a news section, or the front page. Another said that “It is not reasonable to expect people to know to look for applications on the licensing board website”.
  • Alcohol Focus Scotland suggested that there is scope within the regulations to set out examples of good practice with regards to website posts, and to encourage the innovative use of new media, This could also help to increase the accessibility and visibility of occasional licence notices, which are currently only published on the board's websites, meaning they will likely only be seen by those people who are already actively looking for them. Making it easier for people to identify applications of interest may help increase opportunities for groups not traditionally well represented in the licensing process, such as young people or people in recovery, to express their views.
  • The Alcohol and Drug Partnership of East Ayrshire Council recommended “In the interest of making the publicity of these applications more effective, accessible, and easy to find it should be published on a social media channel”, with a suggestion to use the local authorities’ twitter/Facebook page.
  • Other respondents suggested that social media would provide more effective advertising and that informing of licence applications will increase public awareness, knowledge and engagement with the licensing processes.
  • A further recommendation from an individual respondent suggested that the regulations should state in 6(1)(a) that notice should be available on the local board’s website and published by associated social media.
  • The same individual respondent suggested that consideration should be given to a licensing distribution list in each local authority area members of the public can join to receive notification of all licensing applications in their local authority area. Suggesting this would be a simple, low cost and resource way of ensuring maximum community participation.
  • The Alcohol and Drug Partnership of East Ayrshire Council commented that their local Newspaper does publish applications but highlighted that these are often as far back as page 30, and can have a substantial financial cost to it.
  • A Community Council response suggested that resources need to be made available to licensing Departments to speed up digitisation so that they can develop and implement Licensing Portals similar to those used by the Planning Department in Edinburgh. The Edinburgh Planning Portal is fairly user friendly and allows any interested party to view, upload and print all documents relevant to planning applications in the city.

Several respondents made comments relating to the minimum 21 day period by which objections or representations in respect of applications may be made to the Board, which included -.

  • Eight respondents saying that they felt that the current 21 day period was too short, with one respondent highlighting it was unacceptable, especially when postal methods are being used. Another suggested it was too short for people to respond, for instance if they are on holiday for two weeks. Others included reasons such as, extended periods would allow community councils the opportunity to discuss at their meetings (they are unlikely to meet more than once a month and some meet less often at certain times of the year); to allow interested members of the community more time to seek the views of other local residents, prepare contributions, compile a meaningful objection/representation; and make appropriate organisational arrangements to appear at the board to defend their contribution in person.
  • Some respondents who felt that the period was too short suggested it be extended to various periods. These included suggestions of 28 days (consistent with equivalent requirements for civic government licensing as set out in schedule 1 of the Civic Government (Scotland) Act 1982), one month, 42 days and 2 months. One community council suggested that notices should be displayed as per the planning requirements, for the full period required.
  • Renfrewshire Licensing Board referred to a previous Bill where it was proposed that the 21 day notification period be increased to 42 days to allow improved community engagement. They said that the Board would have a neutral view in relation to this.
  • The Law Society of Scotland intimated that they would have concerns about any extension to the 42 day period, stating “This would presumably deal with the lay-objectors who lodge late objections. Again we are unaware of any substantive issue here since there are procedures by which late objections can be handled, so there would still be a process to deal with such matters.

We understand that there can be issues, perhaps on occasion, for larger institutions or organisations to become aware and to make objections on time. However they do have professional processes and advisers to lodge objections timeously and within the current timescales. Regulation 8 of the Procedure Regulations refers to periods for the Board to notify applications. Where there has been a suggestion made that certain community councils may be advantaged by making such changes, with the use of email it is possible to obtain responses to the applications without the need for formal meetings.

There is a balance to be maintained between the time spent in considering applications and the inevitable time required for completion of the necessary administrative and other processes. If further obstacles are to be introduced, we would repeat our concerns that would increase the burden on applicants arisinq from the notification process. That would disproportionately affect the operation of that important balance. At times, it appears that the current period may be too long. Any changes lengthening the process would have an impact on businesses and how they can, and do, run”.

29. In addition to the above, the following comments in relation to regulation 6 were provided by respondents while answering Question 2.

  • West Dunbartonshire Licensing Board recommended that paragraph (1)(a) of Regulation 6 be expanded to allow for applications to be advertised on the “Tell Me Scotland” website, as well as the Licensing Board’s website. They said that this change would allow for the wider circulation of the notification of applications and would act as a ‘back-up’ for times where Council websites might be experiencing technical difficulties. This would be likely to have a positive outcome for local communities and the public, and wouldn’t be likely to impact negatively on the trade.
  • Renfrewshire Licensing Board believe there is a case for amending Regulation 6 and the prescribed form of notice in schedules 1 and 2 of the Regulations to allow for contact details of a suitable officer of the Licensing Board to be included. This would allow parties to make further enquiries with that officer as to the procedure for objections and in relation to the statutory grounds of objection. Alternatively, the prescribed form could be updated to include information on the grounds of refusal to assist the public as to what material may be relevant to the Licensing Board on considering the application.
  • West Lothian Licensing Board advised that all premises licence applications and non-minor variation applications under the 2005 Act are publicised on their website. The Board considers that digital means of publicity is preferable to advertising a notice in a newspaper due to lower costs and the recognition that increasingly in this digital age the public more frequently access information and news through the web/internet as opposed to newsprint. It is considered that this is the most effective method for achieving maximum publicity across the wider community.

However the Board also recognises that such digital means of communicating with the public may exclude some members of the public who do not access digital sources and continue to access news and information from traditional sources such as local newspapers.

The Board notes the requirements of paragraph (4) of the regulation as to what must be specified in the notice. The Board complies with this paragraph but also includes in the notice comments describing the nature of the application, where it is a variation application this would be comments describing the nature of the variation. The Board believes that this allows members of the public to quickly grasp what the application is about and to make a more informed judgement about whether to lodge an objection or representation.

  • A community council suggested that “a copy should be sent to the Secretary of the associated Community Council, with additional emailed copies to members of the CC who have notified the Council of their specific interest in Licensing. This would assist the CC in consulting with neighbours etc. in its consideration of the application”.
  • The Scottish Community Safety Network stated “In order for citizens and communities to become more engaged with this process and for the process to be more transparent than it currently is, the provisions around 'publicity' (Section 6) need to be altered. We would welcome a) much wider notification areas in line with the new definition of 'neighbour' and b) wider means of publication for example on a central database, social media, notification to community groups such as community councils. This will place an additional burden on the Licensing Boards / applicants / licensing forums / Local Authority officers but we think this is outweighed by the positive impact on communities and the whole licensing process”.

30. Regulation 7 - Display of notice

Respondents made comments specifically about this particular regulation, which included –

  • A joint response from the Association of Convenience Stores and the Scottish Grocers’ Federation included the following comment – “Convenience retailers in Scotland have not raised concerns about the current licensing procedure regulations, and as such we do not believe that any changes to the current procedure for notification of applications are required. However, we would have concerns about proposals for extending the period for displaying notice of applications”.
  • The Scottish Beer and Pub Association expressed particular concerns about extending the period stating that “an extension to the required time allowed for objections relating to neighbour notifications would bring a host of negative consequences without any real potential benefits. There is no evidence to suggest that the current 28 day limit stops anyone from objecting or that an extension would increase community awareness. It would very clearly present challenges for businesses which could face substantial delays before they are able to start trading or apply a change to their current business. This would also create added uncertainty to the Scottish market, potential impacting on investment”.
  • Several respondents indicated that notices needed to be more prominent to attract the attention/interest of passers-by and should be more user friendly.
  • Some respondents raised concerns about the existing notices (as set out in schedules 1 and 2) for example that they were unappealing, the form and text could be larger, it could be made clearer that they were public notices, and that some people would find them difficult to read.

There were a number of suggestions from respondents for improvement, which included –

  • the term "conveniently be read" should be more clearly defined in the regulations.
  • regulations could be further adjusted to require the site notice to be displayed on the exterior of the premises.
  • it should be specified that notices be placed on or near the premises such that they are visible from all public thoroughfares adjacent to the premises.
  • notices should be displayed as per Planning requirements, attached to a nearby lamppost or similar, on or by a public highway, for the full period required.
  • increasing the size of the notice to a minimum of A3.
  • giving further consideration to the visual elements, such as headlines, and type sizes that are used (e.g. using subheadings) and simplifying the information that needs to be displayed.
  • could include a "why this notice is important" statement and provide details of where people can access support or advice such as the LSO

for the area.

  • ensuring that they are written in plain, accessible English/language.
  • notices should be on coloured paper or of a specific design so that they can be differentiated from the numerous other notices that are publicly displayed in city centre locations.
  • schedules 1 and 2 of the Regulations should be updated to include more detailed information in respect of individual applications. (This would ensure that relevant information is immediately available to neighbours to assist their understanding of the intended operation of the proposed licensed premises or changes to existing premises).
  • occasional licence applicants should have the same obligation as those that apply for a premises licence, to display a notice at or near the premises to which the occasional licence applies. However, they believe there should remain an exemption to this for occasions when this amount of notice cannot be met e.g. funerals.

31. In addition to the above, the following comments in relation to regulation 7 were provided by respondents while answering Question 2.

  • An individual respondent suggested that “Notices of application" should be prominently displayed on the premises being used for the sale of alcohol as well as notices in public buildings like libraries, community centres etc.
  • Renfrewshire Licensing Board suggested that in the context of a review of the Regulations, consideration may also be given to removing the transitional provisions which are no longer required, which includes regulation 7(7).

32. Regulation 8 - Periods for Board to notify applications

Some respondents provided comments under this particular heading, perhaps under the impression that this regulation related to the period by which objections or representations in respect of applications may be made to the Licensing Board. Please note that those comments have been included in this summary under Regulation 6.

  • One respondent highlighted that regulation 8(3) refers (in the present tense) to applications received before 1 Sep 2009 which no longer seems relevant.

33. Regulation 9 - Documents to accompany notice of premises licence application

Five respondents made comments specifically about this particular regulation, when answering question 1, which included -

  • One community council suggesting a proposed amendment to the wording of regulation 9(2)(b) to ensure ensure that neighbours likely to be affected by a premises licence application would be provided with all the information on which to base their decision whether to object to that application. They also suggested that an additional provision should be added at 9(1)(c) to cover instances where due to organisational or technical reasons councils are unable to provide operating and layout plans or links to web pages.
  • Another community council suggested that the operating plan and layout plan should be sent to the relevant people or a website should be given for accessing these documents.
  • One individual respondent highlighted that the online web page that they use only lists basic information and does not allow the opportunity to view the associated documents. This person was aware that other local authorities operate online portal systems where such documents can be viewed and suggested this should be standard practice across all local authority areas.
  • Alcohol Focus Scotland highlighted from their work with communities, that in practice, some struggle to access the documentation to enable them to properly consider the licence application and others greatly struggle to access documents online. They believe proactively providing copies of the licence applications to statutory consultees would be best practice. As such, suggested that this regulation should be amended so that boards are required to both send the relevant documentation and signpost to websites where the information is available.
  • A response from a community council suggested that Licensing Boards should be required to provide a full set of documents for all licensing applications to community councils, not just the chief constable. (Notification of application: Section 21(2) of the Licensing Scotland Act 2005). They highlighted a number of issues involved in viewing the documents at the council offices.

34. In addition to the above, the following comment in relation to regulation 9 was submitted by West Lothian Licensing Board while answering Question 2.

  • Regulation 9 is out of date as the law was changed in 2010 in this respect. Boards no longer have to provide neighbours with copies of applications. This change was very much welcomed. Neighbours are now advised by notification that they can request a copy of the application. In practice very few neighbours ever ask for a copy, surprisingly this includes those who go on to submit objections.

35. Regulation 18 - Occasional licences

Six respondents made comments specifically about occasional licences which included -

  • One community council felt that the current situation where there is no other notification required for occasional applications, other than to publish on the council’s website for 7 days, seemed to be unfair on neighbours and that treating a one-off one day event in the same way as the whole Christmas or festival period did not seem appropriate.
  • One individual respondent believed that occasional licences should be subject to a greater degree of scrutiny and must be subject to appropriate notification and consultation periods.
  • The Law Society of Scotland commented that the impact on occasional licenses could be very significant if procedures were changed as these can relate to local events or festivals.
  • The City of Edinburgh Licensing Board pointed out that the requirement for details of applications to be placed on the Board’s website for a period of 7 days do not take account of the shortened period for notification introduced by the Criminal Justice and Licensing (Scotland) Act 2010 to allow urgent applications to be dealt with, where the period of notification can be reduced to not less than 24 hours. The Board suggested that paragraph 18 should be amended to reflect the current statutory position. i.e. that applications can be accepted in respect of section 57(4) and 57(5) of the Licensing (Scotland) Act 2005. (This was also included in West Lothian’s response to question 2).

36. In addition to the above, the following comments in relation to occasional licences were provided by individual respondents while answering Question 2.

  • An individual respondent stated “Occasional licences applications do not give a local resident a reasonable chance to object as there is no neighbour notification, and no notice is displayed. Again the reliance is on persons staking out the councils website just in case something might change. I feel this is unfair on neighbours who should have a proper chance to raise their concerns as to what is happening in their community”
  • Another individual respondent stated “Occasional licences should be for rare, one of a kind events - such as community events or fundraising events. They should be actively encouraged for these type of events and at a low cost for the application. Occasional licences should not be abused by business and venues that either should have, or do have, a premises licence - for example a hotel that has a premises licence should be required to obtain a variation to licence to hold 20 weddings per year in a marquee on its grounds, rather than obtain 20 separate occasional licences that are not subject to the same level of scrutiny”.


Email: Alex Kelly

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