Pubs in Argyll and Bute fail to make the grade

PUBS across Argyll and Bute are, for the most part, failing to make the grade with regard to licensing legislation – and Bute is no exception, with 15 out of 18 pubs inspected requiring remedial action.

A programme of visits by the council’s licensing standards team has revealed a startling level of non-compliance with the Licensing (Scotland) Act 2005.

All premises had been written to, advising that a visit would be taking place, detailing specific areas the inspectors would be examining, as well as enclosing advice and guidance on the Act’s requirements.

The results showed that only 12 out of the 92 premises visited were fully compliant with the legislation, leaving a remained of 80 requiring remedial action. On Bute alone, only three out of 18 premises inspected were fully compliant.

The criteria under which the premises were tested included the display of various statutory notices, staff training and knowledge, security and children and young persons’ policies.

Councillor Daniel Kelly, chair of Argyll and Bute’s Licensing Board, said he was shocked by the failures, and would have no hesitation in urging the Board to review the licenses of any premises which failed to take all reasonable steps to adhere to the law.

“It is extremely disappointing that despite the efforts of our licensing team in supporting licensed premises across the area, it appears that many of them are failing to comply with the basic legislation,” he said.

“The feedback I am getting is that most of this non-compliance is not wilful, but rather the result of ignorance of the requirements. This is not an acceptable excuse. Not only have all these licensees had ample opportunity to familiarise themselves with the Act, but also all have received information and support from our officers in how best to comply with it.

“It is shocking that 87 per cent of those businesses inspected – who all knew well in advance that the inspection would be taking place – are failing in their duties as licensed premises.”

Cllr Kelly said that licensing standards officers will begin an enforcement strategy, which will inform all licensees of the findings and provide advice and instruction regarding areas identified as requiring further attention.

The failed premises will be revisited to ensure necessary action has been taken, and other licensed premises which have not been visited will be inspected.

Cllr Kelly added: “As part of this strategy, licensees should be in no doubt that compliance notices will be issued if necessary, and that they would well find themselves up before the Licensing Board if they continue to flout the law.”