Disabled access statement required for new premises licences
You would be forgiven for not being aware of upcoming changes to the process of obtaining a premises licence under the Licensing (Scotland) Act 2005. In 2010 consent to amending the law was approved, however, since 2010, we haven’t received any guidance as to what is going to be required. The Scottish Government has now launched a consultation on the matter.
So what is changing?
You may wonder what information has to be in the statement. As yet, we do not know for sure as, at this stage, we only have draft guidance. The simple draft forms prepared so far seem to require applicants to provide information under 3 headings:
1. access to premises;
2. facilities available; and
3. other provisions.
At this stage we have no timescale for implementation of the new measures. It is believed the changes will be implemented before the summer.
A “Disabled Access and Facilities Statement” will require to be lodged along with the Operating Plan and Layout Plan. If you fail to submit such a statement, the Board cannot automatically refuse the application, however, it will mean that they won’t consider the application until the statement has been submitted.
If you are considering embarking on a new project, you would be well advised to be aware of the forthcoming changes.
The Government has been at pains to point out that the provisions do not compel a venue to provide any specific aids/access for the disabled people and that the main purpose is to ensure that disabled people can obtain information about the accessibility of a venue before visiting it.
It is important to realise that, at this stage, the law relating to disabled people has not changed. Proposed new licensees need take no more steps to alter their premises than existing licence holders. All licence holders are obliged to give consideration to the Equality Act at present. You are only required to make adjustments where they are reasonable. The reality is that many adjustments can be made at no cost and there are many ways to assist disabled people simply by providing simple staff training, enabling servers to recognise the mains types of disabilities and advising them what to do to help. It is hoped that the new legislation will encourage applicants to give due consideration to accessibility of their premises and to try to improve them in a way that they are already legally obliged to do.
If you require any advice in connection with licensing applications, please do not hesitate to contact me.