Scores of Fife registered social clubs have successfully negotiated the critical transition process to Scotland’s new licensing system, thanks to the foresight and organisation shown by Dunfermline-based chartered surveyors firm DM Hall LLP, which has been preparing for the changeover for almost a year.
The company found many social clubs – typically bowling, miners’ and other community-based clubs – were badly unprepared for the move to the new system, which sees registered clubs joining the regular licensed trade for the first time.
Associate Partner and property services manager Alan Jeffrey, at DM Hall LLP’s Dunfermline base, said: “We took on extra staff for this exercise, correctly anticipating a sudden deluge of applications – we’ve helped with 50 to 60 per month.
“A main area of concern was the premises plan which had to accompany applications: some assumed something fairly basic would do, whereas in fact it has to be a detailed 1:100 scale drawing showing exactly how each area will be used at all times – a job which really needs to be professionally carried out by an architect.”
He added: “Apart from confusion over what was needed there was the simple fact that the transition to the new Act has been a very expensive business for many regular trade operators, however for some of the smaller clubs, whose resources are frequently very stretched, finding the money was always going to be a major concern, given the timescale.
“We’ve been able to arrange payment terms which will allow clubs to meet the costs without getting into serious difficulties, and have in many cases made a real difference to applications which could have been problematic.”
Several specialist licensing lawyers have repeatedly warned that the transition to the new Licensing Act, which becomes fully effective next year, was set to be particularly traumatic for social clubs, which until now have dealt with licensing boards only when applying for late extensions.
Escalating costs and factors like the smoking ban have hit membership in some clubs, and the extra costs associated with the move to become part of the regular trade –