Figures obtained by the DRAM from each one of Scotland’s licensing boards reveal a massive drop in on-trade licences from 13,003 (inclusive of registered clubs) in 2007 to 7,383 today. But before everyone jumps to the assumption that the number of pubs have almost halved in the last five years, licensing lawyers say the original 2007 figures were “not robust.” In fact one lawyer told DRAM, “I would not put any faith in them at all.”
The figures obtained by the DRAM, who called each of Scotland’s boards, reveal that there are currently 7,383 on-trade licences in force, and that includes registered clubs, pubs, entertainment licences, hotel and restaurants. The Scottish Government last month released their updated licensing figures, but unlike in previous years they could not give a breakdown of on-trade licences and off-trade, making it impossible to determine the reduction in the number of pubs, but the figures did reveal the total number of licences issued has been significantly reduced. Numbers have fallen, according to the government “to about 16,300”, compared to 19,263 (inclusive of 2,243 registered clubs) in 2007 – the last year figures were available for. Although the Scottish government initially failed to mention that the current figures included registered clubs, finding it necessary to publish a statement clarifying this. Therefore the statistic of 16,300 includes on-trade, off-trade and registered clubs. The overall fall in licence numbers is therefore significant falling from 19,263 in 2007 to 16,300 now – a 15% decline, but it is the on-trade figure which appears to be most worrying, it has dropped by 43%! But again licensing lawyers say this figures is nearer 18%.
A spokesperson for the Scottish Government told DRAM, “The lack of statistics and breakdown of figures is down to a number of factors, including the upgrading of IT systems, after the implementation of the 2005 Licensing (Scotland) Act. This has also made it difficult to compile statistical date since 2007, until the most recent ones for 2011.” However, again, there is a caveat…under the new act, premises which previously had multiple licences now have only one.
DRAM made a simple phone call to each individual Board, there were some delays with gathering the data, but in the main, all of the Boards were able to issue a breakdown of the number of on-trade premises in their respective areas in a matter of days. Only Aberdeen City’s Jackie Wallace wasn’t able to turn the request around in time for the DRAM deadline, but it is understood there are approximately 650. DRAM Editor Susan Young concludes, “The current statistics are almost pointless. Surely in this day and age, with computers in every government department, and the fact that boards are required by law to make their information available, that the Scottish government provide more accurate figures than the statistics just supplied.” See below for a full breakdown the number of licences.
|Argyll and Bute||448|
|Dumfries and Galloway Annandale and Eskdale/Nithsdale/Stewarty and Wigton||478|
|Perth and Kinross||204|