Scottish Borders Council

Agenda item

Licensing Board Annual Report December 2018 to November 2019 and December 2019 to November 2020

Consider report by the Clerk presenting a summary of the work of the Scottish Borders Licensing Board and the staff supporting the Board (copy attached).


3.1       There had been circulated copies of a report by the Clerk to the Licensing Board presenting a summary of the work of the Scottish Borders Licensing Board and the staff supporting the Board, covering the two year period from December 2018 to November 2020.  It was hoped that the report would assist the Forum to facilitate its scrutiny role of how the Board discharged its duties and responsibilities in terms of the Licensing (Scotland) Act 2005 (the Act) as amended.  The Managing Solicitor, Ron Kirk, presented the report and highlighted the main points. Since the last joint meeting on 5 December 2018 the Board had met 11 times in the period from the last meeting to 30 November 2019; and 7 times in the following period to 30 November 2020.  At each Board meeting, in addition to determining applications and reviews, Members considered all matters which had been dealt with under the delegated powers of the Clerk where both the Act permitted this method of determination and there had been no objection or representation in respect of the application.  The majority of delegated decisions were in connection with grants of occasional licences which were a feature of sporting fixtures and local festivals in the Community.  The number of Occasional Licences that had been granted in the periods 2018-19 and 2019-20 were 1,340 and 321 respectively.  Of those, 382 and 101 respectively were granted to voluntary organisations.  Extended hours were granted in response to 78 applications in 2018-29 and 25 in 2019-20


3.2       Hearings took place as part of the Board’s business as narrated in the published agenda.   Hearings were held in public and parties had the right to address the Board or rely solely on their written submissions. The Board considered 27 applications to vary Premises Licenses (17 in the period to 30 November 2019 and a further 10 to 30 November 2020).  This included both major and minor variation applications which must be determined by the Board and applications which attracted objections or representations.  The Board arranged 12 Review hearings in 2018-19 and 9 in 2019-20 in respect of premises licences.  All but 3 were in relation to notices for failure of premises to make payment of the annual fee.  The Board must hold a hearing for the Grant or Provisional Grant of a Premises Licence.  There were 7 new Premises Licences granted in the period to 30 November 2019 and 10 in the following period to 30 November 2020.  3 Licence Holders chose to surrender their Licence. 


3.3    The lockdown initially impacted on the Board’s business. The Licensing (Scotland) Act 2005 required the Board to hold hearings in public. The lockdown meant that this was not possible. With both businesses and licensing authorities under unprecedented disruption as a result of the Covid-19 outbreak, the Scottish Government moved swiftly and passed the Coronavirus (Scotland) Act 2020 which allowed the Board some flexibility with regard to the timescales and deadlines stipulated in the 2005 Act. In addition, the 2020 Act contained provisions which gave the Board a new discretion to dispense with the requirement to hold meetings in public and to instead provide alternative means for persons to be heard by telephone, video conferencing or by written communication including by electronic means. As a consequence, the Board was able to recommence meetings by Microsoft Teams Video Conferencing and held its first meeting by this medium on 31 July 2020. This has subsequently enabled the Board to meet on a monthly basis as it normally did prior to the Covid-19 outbreak.


3.4       The Board was required to produce and publish annual finance and functions reports for the period 1 April to 31 March. The Board considered and approved these reports for the year to 31 March 2019 at its meeting on 21 June 2019 and the reports were subsequently published thereafter. The Coronavirus (Scotland) Act 2020 extended the timescale for publishing these reports, for the period to 31 March 2020, to 31 December 2020 and as such the Board will consider its annual finance and functions reports at its next meeting on 18 December 2020 with a view to having the reports published immediately thereafter.

Since the last meeting, the Board had also been required to review its Statement of Principles under the Gambling Act 2005 for the period 31 January 2019 to 30 January 2022. At its meeting on 22 March 2019 the Board agreed a draft Statement of Principles for consultation. A six week period of consultation took place from 5 April 2019 to 17 May 2019. Officers considered the responses on behalf of the Board and concluded that the responses raised matters that were either covered by the draft statement of principles or related to matters that were outwith the Board’s control. As a result it was the considered view of these officers that no changes were required to the draft and a recommendation to this effect was considered and approved by the Board at its meeting on 19 July 2019 and the finalised Statement of Principles was published shortly thereafter.  






(a)        note the report; and


(b)       request that the Clerk continue to provide updates to the joint meeting on an annual basis.


Supporting documents:



Scottish Borders Council

Council Headquarters Newtown St. Boswells Melrose TD6 0SA

Tel: 0300 100 1800


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