SBPA: Glasgow profiteering from licensing

By Lesley Foottit

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Licensing board Edinburgh License Scotland Glasgow licensing board

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The Scottish Beer and Pub Association (SBPA) has accused Glasgow's licensing board of "profiteering" from the pub industry.

The Scottish Beer and Pub Association (SBPA) has accused Glasgow's licensing board of "profiteering" from the pub industry after generating £750,000 in fees over the last two years.

Glasgow City Council's licensing board has brought in £748,453 through fees paid by the trade to enter the new licensing regime.

The SPBA, which has more than 5,000 members, plans to write to justice secretary Kenny MacAskill MSP, urging him to intervene with the board.

The board has insisted that the fees brought in will drop over the coming years as the laws are new and some of the payments are for 10-year licences. There was a drop in fees paid in 2009/10 than in 2008/2009 — a trend that is "expected to continue".

The charges were increased in 2008 to cover the costs of the licensing system over the longer term without the need for further funding. When the fees were changed MacAskill said they were to be capped.

However, head of the SBPA Patrick Browne told the Scotland Herald​ that Glasgow's licensed trade was "effectively subsidising the operation of the city council".

"These figures are scandalous and show that Glasgow's licensed trade has been the victim of massive profiteering at the hands of the city's licensing board," he added.

"Licensees are content to pay their way, but, at a time when trading is tough and an average of three pubs are closing in Scotland every week, it is indefensible for Glasgow to generate a profit of £750,000 in just two years.

"We will be writing to Kenny MacAskill asking that he intervenes to tackle the Glasgow board, which is clearly in breach of its statutory obligation only to levy fees that are broadly equivalent to its costs."

Huge changes

A spokesman for Glasgow Licensing Board said: "These comments completely fail to acknowledge the huge changes introduced by the new licensing act.

"The overall package of fees charged by Glasgow is very reasonable and is entirely in line with the national picture.

"The great majority of licensed premises in the city pay an annual fee of £280 or less and premises now carry no requirement for renewal after every three years or the associated legal fees.

"As has been repeatedly explained, fees have been based on a budget projection over ten years and it is fully anticipated that our books will balance over that period.

"The board cannot run this service at a loss, otherwise the board would be subsidising the licensed trade as they fulfil their legal responsibilities.

"However, we stand by our pledge to keep the issue of fees under review."

Related topics Licensing law

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