The Scottish Executive is avoiding involvement in any decisions over planning regulations for outside structures to accommodate smokers, despite calls for more guidance from the Scottish Beer and Pub Association (SBPA).
In a letter to SBPA chief executive, Patrick Browne, the deputy minister for health and community care, Lewis Macdonald declined to offer any advice on what external structures would be permissible under the terms of the smoke-free legislation, claiming it could cause confusion.
Macdonald reiterated that planning decisions were down to individual councils and that there could be variations within different local authorities.
I am, therefore inclined to the view that guidance may, in fact, complicate matters by fettering individual authorities' discretion in taking decisions based on local policy and design issues," he said.
Responding to the letter, Browne said: "We are obviously disappointed at the response of the Scottish Executive to our suggestion that they convene a working group to provide some clarity on what forms of external smoking shelters would meet the terms of the smoking ban. This issue is causing licensees in Scotland real difficulty when you factor in that there are often 32 interpretations of planning guidance in Scotland, which is the number of councils we have to operate with."
Brown concluded: "This is the second time the Executive has rejected a suggestion from us on this point and it would appear they don't want to do anything which makes life easier for the licensed trade to cater for its smoking customers in an external environment."
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