Scotland's leaders have failed to give the licensed trade any reassurance over its new licensing regime, according to the head of the Scottish Beer & Pub Association (SBPA).
SBPA chief executive Patrick Browne said the decision by the Scottish Executive not to grant blanket grandfather rights would leave smaller operators in limbo for the next three to four years. "Ministers are presuming that most licensed premises will simply move with ease into the new system, but there will be no guarantees," he added.
Although the executive has made some concessions, businesses cannot presume to keep their existing trading conditions and hours as in England and Wales.
The executive said granting blanket grandfather rights would create a confused two-tier system best avoided.
"The approach we have taken takes into account the need to see positive and far-reaching change… but also the need to act in a way which is fair and equitable for existing licensees," said George Lyon, deputy minister for public service reform.
Scottish licensing timeline
- October 2006: Regulations and guidance published for three-month consultation
- February 2007: Regulations and guidance laid before Scottish Parliament
- May 2007: Appointment of new licensing boards.
- June 2007: Six-month period for boards to prepare licensing policy statements.
- Febraury 2008: Transition to the new licensing regime over 18 months.