Scots call for licensing level playing field

By Lesley Foottit

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: License, Scotland

Campaign  launched to “level the playing field” between on and off-trade
Campaign launched to “level the playing field” between on and off-trade
A campaign has been launched to "level the playing field" regarding treatment of the on and off-trade by licensing boards.

A campaign has been launched to "level the playing field" regarding treatment of the on and off-trade through the implementation of legislation by licensing boards.

Fife Area Licensed Trade Association initiated the Level the Playing Field campaign to "dispel the myth" that the Licensing Scotland Act 2005 only applies to the on-trade.

The campaign argues that supermarkets are ignoring the public health objective by selling alcohol so cheaply.

It has the backing of several trade bodies including the Scottish Grocers Federation, fire brigade and wholesale industry.

The campaign officially launched on 12 May with the initial focus of sending postcards out to licensees, which they can then send to their members of Scottish parliament (MSP). Punch Taverns has taken 1,000 postcards to send out to its licensees and Scottish Licensed Trade News magazine included a postcard in its last issue.

The campaign is timed to coincide with the MSPs return to office following the parliamentary elections. There is also a Facebook group that has been running for two weeks and has gained 145 fans so far.

Also involved in the campaign is Jeff Ellis, licensee of the Bear Tavern in Fife who waged war against the big four supermarkets last year after blaming their cut-price alcohol for his loss of trade. He was forced to drop the case when it became a legal matter and was invited to join the Fife Area Licensed Trade Association managing committee.

"When I went before the Fife board last year the problem was that the licensing board is limited where it can get guidance," said Ellis. "It boils down to the legislation itself.

"The problem that I had was that the existing version of the guidance doesn't enable licensees to take the decisions they need without taking further action. We are hoping to have the current version redrafted so licensing boards are given clearer direction in case they do come up against the multiples."

"We are hoping the campaign could become industry wide. We have focused on getting postcards out in time for the MSPs taking office and we've had phone calls from licensees to say they have already sent theirs."

Visit the site at www.leveltheplayingfield.co.uk​.

Related topics: Licensing law

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