Group to lobby for freeze on new licences

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: License

The Scottish Licensed Trade Association (SLTA) is to lobby government for a formal, 25-year freeze on the issuing of new licences. The SLTA has been...

The Scottish Licensed Trade Association (SLTA) is to lobby government for a formal, 25-year freeze on the issuing of new licences.

The SLTA has been arguing the case for a moratorium on new licences, for several years. It believes there is an over-provision of licensed premises in Scotland which makes business difficult for existing licensees.

At its AGM in Inverness, SLTA members unanimously agreed that the organisation should push the Scottish Executive to approve a 25-year moratorium on the issue of retail licences for the sale of alcohol.

It would mean Scotland follows the example of Ireland in only renewing existing licences instead of granting new ones and would effectively cap the number of pubs allowed north of the border.

However, several areas in Scotland have already done more than agree to lobby for change.

After pubco JD Wetherspoon opened a Wetherlodge budget hotel in Inverness, city centre licensing chiefs ruled that the addition of any new licensed outlet within the city centre would amount to over-provision.

The city board, after refusing an Aberdeen-based Chinese restaurant operator who sought a pub licence for a restaurant in the centre of Inverness, confirmed the decision was made on the grounds of over-provision of pub outlets.

In Edinburgh, the licensing board, which has long been seen as the leader in flexible trading hours and late night licensing, has also begun to crack down of new licences, recognising that certain districts in the capital, such as the Grassmarket area, suffer from over-provision.

Licensing board officials in Perth have also begun to refuse applications on the grounds of over-provision, although a spokesperson from the council said: "We would always look at each individual application for a licence on its own merit."

Related topics: Licensing law