Licensees in Scotland will be hit with millions of pounds of extra costs if concerns over the country's licensing laws are not addressed, the Scottish Beer and Pub Association (SBPA) has warned.
In a joint submission with the British Hospitality Association in Scotland, responding to the Scottish Executive's draft guidance on regulations governing the Licensing (Scotland) Act 2005, the SBPA outlined five major concerns.
First are the rules governing neighbour notification of a change in trading hours, which the Executive has recommended be set to "interested parties" within 50 metres. The SBPA fears this will swamp the system and escalate costs.
The Scottish Executive's intention to introduce regular underage test purchasing ahead of the introduction of the new licensing regime in Scotland in late 2009 has also caused the SBPA concern. It believes it would be more sensible to introduce test purchasing alongside the act to allow licencees to combine staff training.
The SBPA is also worried about the flexibility local licensing boards will have to interpret the new law and the presumption that a court ruling will be required in regards to irresponsible promotions, despite the act clearly outlining what is, and what isn't, acceptable.
Patrick Browne, chief executive of the SBPA, said: "This consultation contains some very critical issues which could cost the industry in Scotland millions of pounds, if not tens of millions of pounds in unnecessary costs. We hope the Executive take on board the legitimate concerns which we feel we have put forward."