Licence holders at three Shetland businesses are to be warned after failing to pay fees despite repeated requests.
The Shetland Islands area licensing board heard today (Monday) that while the payments of £220-£280 had eventually been paid, it had taken considerable officer time.
The licence holders at the Mossbank Shop, Phu Siam Thai Restaurant in Lerwick and Glen Orchy House, also in Lerwick, missed the original 30th September deadline and failed to pay after a further requests in December.
Payment was only made after the the board was alerted last month, resulting in a premises licence review into the breach.
However, the new operators of the Mossbank Shop – now called North Lea Autopoint – claim they had tried “multiple times” to make the payment at the SIC’s White House, only to be refused.
With the premises licence still in the previous operator’s name, the new team say they were not told the fees were outstanding until December at which point they began attempts to pay.
A business representative said: “I just hope that the council do it better next time.”
Vice chairman George Smith warned the late payment of some fees could have adverse effects on other businesses.
“There’s always a danger that if we see a trend of late payments and increased workload it could have an impact on fees in the future,” he said.
“That’s not something, I think, that we would want to do given the circumstances that licensed premises are operating under.
“But it’s always a risk.”
SIC convener Malcom Bell said that while the fees had been paid, he was concerned with the amount of work staff had needed to do to reach this stage.
“Yes, it has finally been paid, but it’s taken us a long time to get here an in the meantime, virtually everyone else has managed to pay,” he said.
Mr Bell said it was “clearly unacceptable.”
He said that while it had been a “tough year” for everyone, the licensing board had to be fair to everyone, including those who had managed to pay.
Council solicitor Keith Adam explained that while most of the 149 licensed premises holders paid their fees on time, “a small number” failed to do so.
The board’s clerk wrote to all licence holders requesting payment by 30th September.
A follow-up letter was sent on 8th December to 10 licence holders whose fee had yet to be paid. Following that, seven of the outstanding frees were paid.
Board members questioned whether the licence holders could face financial penalties over their failure to pay.
Mr Adam, however, said that was not within the powers of the licensing act.
Members resolved to ensure the warning was strongly worded.
Board chairman Cecil Smith said: “They need to be told that we’re taking this quite seriously. “
Other available sanctions included varying, suspending or revoking the licences.
The board heard that the Mossbank Shop had a new occupant, but the transfer of licence from the previous holder had not been completed. An application to transfer the licence was made in April when the overdue fee was also paid.