Argyll and Bute Licensing Board are working to safeguard communities by launching a consultation to help formally identify if there any issues in respect of an over provision of premises licensed to sell alcohol.
The members of the board are keen to hear the views of communities in Dunoon, Rothesay, Helensburgh, Oban and Campbeltown.
Licensing Boards have a duty to consider whether there is overprovision of licensed premises, or a particular type of licensed premises, in their area or any part of their area. This is in line with the Licensing (Scotland) Act which aims to prevent crime and disorder, maintain public safety, prevent public nuisance, promote and improve public health and protect children and young persons from harm.
In a preliminary report to the Argyll and Bute Licensing Board in June 2015, statistics from Alcohol Focus Scotland show that Argyll and Bute has fewer alcohol outlets than Scotland as a whole, but has pockets of high availability; one quarter of neighbourhoods in Argyll and Bute have an outlet density greater than the Scottish average.
Areas with the highest density of on-sales premises showed death rates 60% higher than areas with the lowest. Areas with the highest density of off-sales premises had hospitalisations 167% higher than areas with the lowest.
Statistics from Police Scotland, Scottish Fire and Rescue Service and Scottish Ambulance Service would appear to indicate that an over provision in the towns of Dunoon, Rothesay, Helensburgh, Oban and Campbeltown, may contribute to incidents of crime, health and fire.
Now in a major consultation, questions about over provision will involve Community Councils, local licence holders, young people, Argyll and Bute Councillors, Police Scotland, NHS Highland, the Argyll and Bute Alcohol and Drug Partnership, and Argyll and The Isles Tourism Co-operative.
This involves considering the number, type and capacity of licensed premises in an area. The consultation will ask whether there is an overprovision of premises licensed to sell alcohol in any or all of the five areas highlighted above, what type of premises is there overprovision (if any) for example off-sales or on-sales and what the reasons are for the overprovision (if any).
Meetings will be arranged with relevant groups in each of the areas concerned, inviting their input.
Argyll and Bute Licensing Board Chair Councillor Rory Colville said, “The responsibilities of the Licensing Board are far reaching within our communities – with the protection of children and young persons, health and public order having to be taken into consideration while determining license applications.
“At the same time, we must undertake our responsibilities while recognising the whisky industry, in particular, plays an important part in the well-being of the Argyll and Bute economy, providing much needed employment in some of our more rural and isolated communities but also through attracting visitors to Scotland. Tourism activity links closely with food and drink, the retail sector and recreational activities.
“In light of all of this, Board members take all their decisions very seriously and reviewing possible over provision is an important part of our duties. I would encourage everyone who is approached about this consultation to consider taking part. This will feed into the relevant decision making process by the Licensing Board.”
The consultation is being undertaken on behalf of the Licensing Board by Iconic Consulting of Edinburgh, who will report their findings to Argyll and Bute Licensing Board by the end of October 2015.