PUBS and hotels will be able to open later over the festive season.
Argyll and Bute Licensing Board has agreed licensed premises will be able to apply for extended hours over Christmas and New Year.
Operators of premises are being urged to get their applications in early – not just for Christmas, but all year round.
Chair of the Licensing Board, Councillor David Kinniburgh, said: “At the moment licensees wanting to extend their hours over the festive period need to apply to us at least 35 days before the date of the event for which the extra hours are required.
“This deadline of 35 days in advance also applies to people applying throughout the year for occasional licences for places that do not have a licence, such as a village hall.
“We are increasingly seeing people come to us at the last minute asking for licences, within the 35-day period.”
“Licensing staff pull out all the stops to make sure their licence is processed for the event to go ahead, or in time for the festive season as they want to ensure celebrations go ahead as planned.
“However, a last-minute rush, particularly coming up to December, puts pressure on the hard-working team here to get everything approved.
“It also means there is a chance some applications may not be processed in time, which would be a huge disappointment for people planning things in their community, or looking forward to the boost Christmas and New Year means for business.
“We don’t want to have to say no to people but if too many people miss the deadline, that may well happen.
“Even if we are able to process everything in time, late applications mean late approval, sometimes very close to the event. That leaves people worrying they may not get the go-ahead.
“It’s in everyone’s interests to make sure you get your licence applications in before the 35 days so we can make sure things run smoothly and you can enjoy your celebration.”
This year’s festive season will see a presumption in favour of trading hours being extended by one hour. This is from Friday 8 December to Tuesday 2 January (into the morning of 3 January). Subject to their application being approved, premises that have a licence until 1am will be able to trade until 2am, those with a 2am licence until 3am.
On the dates of 24, 25, 26 and 31 December and 1 January, hours are extended to 3am for all premises.