Licensing board rules out over-provision statement on off-sales

Shetland’s area licensing board has stopped short of insisting Lerwick has an over-provision of off-sales premises.

But members have agreed to act on any further guidelines provided by Scottish ministers in the future.

It follows consultation exercises which raised questions over whether the town had too many off-sale outlets for alcohol.

At a town hall meeting on Tuesday, Paul Wishart from the SIC’s legal department said guidance from Scottish ministers dated back to 2007 and was currently under review.

Current case law on over-provision guides board members to identify “particular evidence” relating to the “particular area, or application, under consideration”.

A report before members stated: “General evidence that increased availability of alcohol leads to increased harm from alcohol does not of itself justify or lead to a conclusion that there is over-provision in any particular area.”

That led to concerns the board could leave itself open to more appeals against refusals.

Chairman Ian Scott said a statement of over-provision would be more likely to hinder rather than help the situation regarding alcohol consumption.

“We’d be open to appeals at any instance,” he said.

Responding to questions, Mr Wishart said a statement of over-provision would make no difference to existing outlets.

“It’s just for the policy going forward,” he said.

Discussion focused on education aimed at changing attitudes to alcohol.

Shetland West councillor Catherine Hughson said: “I think early intervention starts at a really early age and is making good inroads in schools about drugs and alcohol. To me, that’s where this needs to be supported.”

South Mainland councillor George Smith – who also chairs the education and families committee – agreed.

“Whether we have an over-provision statement or not I don’t think it will make a huge odds,” he said.

“Availability of alcohol will still be the same. I think it’s about trying to educate folk to use alcohol in a different way than they currently do.”

Lerwick North member Stephen Leask said he had been interested in a UK-wide study which showed alcohol was “on the wane”.

Shetland North member Alastair Cooper said a large number of people were drinking at home before they went out.

“I don’t think this is going to deal with alcohol consumption in Shetland,” he said.

• See Friday’s Shetland Times for more on this story


Add Your Comment
  • David Spence

    • March 13th, 2019 18:21

    It would be interesting to have a ‘ pilot scheme ‘ for 1 year to have all functions (private and public) to have a zero affect towards alcohol, and to serve alternative, none alcoholic, beverages (even tea and coffee) at the event. It would be interesting to find out public opinion on such events and whether or not Shetland social events are totally dependent on alcohol, regardless.

    If we put as much effort on tackling alcoholism as we do on smoking, maybe, just maybe, a positive outcome could be achieved.

    Mind you, when all your popular soaps on tv are based on pubs and alcohol, the message could be lost elsewhere.

    It seems ashame we cannot have a social event unless alcohol is involved.

    • Steven Jarmson

      • March 18th, 2019 0:10

      Alcohol is the key ingredient of socialising all over the world.
      Pius attitudes offer nothing substantial to issues that are very complex.
      I really don’t see much wrong with having a drink at an event. Not getting completely wrecked, but a couple does help people relax and enjoy things more.
      There is scientific evidence to show this to be the case.
      Stopping serving alcohol will only mean people drink (much more, in a shorter period) prior to going to events. Which evidence will tell you only leads to more anti-social behaviour and cut profits for venues.
      Punishing the majority, who do nothing more than have a little social drink, is blatanty wrong and has the feeling of ulterior motives.


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