The Scottish Beer and Pub Association (SBPA) has hit out at the Scottish Government for proposing to increase licensing fees, claiming figures on the cost of the appeals process produced to justify the rise are wrong.
A consultation on the Licensing Act, launched by the Scottish Government in June, proposed to increase licence fees to cover the cost of the appeals process. It produced research claiming that licence fees currently cover only 63% of the cost of appeals.
But in an open letter sent this week, the SBPA urged the Scottish Government to reconsider the cost of licensing fees which it argues have been set too high because the cost of appeals were overestimated.
Patrick Browne, chief executive of the SBPA, which counts 1,500 of Scotland's 5,200 pubs as members, said: "It appears the Scottish Government's proposed fee structure was put together on the basis of some questionable research which cost the taxpayer £40,000."
He insisted that it was "totally unacceptable" to have 55% of the total £10m costs of licensing transition in Scotland based on an estimate of appeal costs.
"We think the Scottish Government could cut the proposed fees in Scotland by 40% which would reduce the fee for a premises licence for the smallest pubs in Scotland to just £240, rather then the £400 as currently planned," Browne added.
The consultation will now go back to the Scottish Government and, if passed, the licensing laws will come into effect on 1 February 2008.
By Christopher Walton