Glasgow City Pubs to open till 1am: Consultation

ON THE GLASGOW LICENSING BOARD CONSULTATION
RELEASED 2 SEPTEMBER 2013, INCLUDING THE PROPOSAL TO ALLOW PUBS IN THE CITY CENTRE TO OPEN TILL 1AM SEVEN DAYS A WEEK

Glasgow Licensing Board has released today a wide-ranging and incredibly encouraging consultation on a revised version of their policy statement. The consultation can be accessed here and closes on 31 October 2013. I urge anyone involved in the licensed trade in Glasgow to respond positively to some of the proposed changes within.

The big news is that the Board is looking to allow city centre pubs to open till 1am seven days a week. This is incredibly positive news for the city and the trade. As many readers will know, for decades Glasgow was stuck with 11pm closing and 12midnight on Fridays and Saturdays, only moving to 12midnight seven days a week as of 1 September 2009. By comparison, Edinburgh has allowed 1am opening seven days a week for many years.

This policy proposal will be an incredible shot in the arm for many traders and the Glasgow Licensing Board is to be thoroughly commended for putting this forward. I remind everyone that in order to achieve the magical 1am, a major variation application would be needed and this would involve a hearing. Each application would be dealt with on its own merits. Neighbours, the NHS and indeed anyone could object. So although 1am looks likely to be the new policy hours, the Board retains control and there will be some who will be refused.

There are numerous changes proposed beyond the headline 1am terminal hour:

1. Later trading for external areas. Currently most premises have to clear their external areas by 10pm. 10pm will remain the default hour but the Board indicate they will be open to extend that in exceptional circumstances, and mention a greater requirement for management of patrons such as noise from smokers. There is also a proposed new condition which would allow storage of the external furniture in the external area if safe.

2. 3am terminal hours right across the city for premises not open prior to 7pm. This corrects the anomaly that some nightclub premises outside the city could only open till 2am, despite having been licensed till 3am under old legislation.

3. The exception for early morning licensed hours is to be removed – the Board indicating that there is no longer a valid justification for this and these hours are often used by persons with alcohol dependency issues.

4. A restriction on extended hours applications: the Board is concerned that the frequency of applications for some premises is undermining their standard policy and will look to impose a maximum allowance of 10 per permises per year.

5. Overprovision: The Board has identified no less than EIGHT new areas which it deems to be over-provided and will create a rebuttable presumption against new licence applications in these areas. The specific areas are identified by plans annexed to the consultation and are: Calton, Carntyne West, Ibrox, Laurieston, Whiteinch, Govan, Parkhead and Shettleston North.

6. Off Sales: a more robust approach to off sale licences with various factors to be taken into account: size, layout, security, access and so on. A new proposed condition will require CCTV for off sales premises.

7. Policy on adult entertainment to be deleted following impact of Brightcrew decision.

The full consultation of course deals with all of this in more detail, plus some other changes too. Having had a quick look through it this afternoon, as with any policy there will be winners and losers, but from a personal viewpoint, and at first blush, it seems to me that this consultation shows that this licensing board is thinking of a Glasgow fit for the Commonwealth Games and for the 21st century, one which is “open for business”; but one which also takes very seriously the alcohol health harms that the city experiences in the particular areas where such issues are more prevalent. It is a fine balance to strike, and I commend the Board and their advisers for delivering a consultation which recognises the positives that responsible sale and consumption of alcohol can bring, as well as the reverse.

Tip of the hat, Glasgow.

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About Stephen McGowan

Leading Scottish licensing solicitor at TLT. Chairman of BII Scotland.
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