Dundee City Council is seeking a new strategy for reducing availability of alcohol after a court ruling forced a rethink.
The council’s licensing board had been knocking back the majority of businesses applying to sell booze under its overprovision policy.
But this was ruled unlawful by a sheriff in March and last week, Aldi and Home Bargains gained off-sales licenses for new stores due to the decision.
‘Disappointment’ after sheriff’s decision
Convener of the council’s licencing board, Councillor Stewart Hunter, said: “Clearly the licensing board was disappointed that our overprovision policy fell after the legal challenge by Aldi.
“Even though the sheriff agreed with us in most of the points in the legal challenge we lost the appeal on one point – minimum pricing – and therefore lost the appeal.”
Minimum pricing of alcohol at 50p per unit sold became law across Scotland in May 2018.
As any retailer cannot undercut this it means, according to the sheriff ruling, that there is already sufficient provision in the law to stop lower-priced unit sales.
It meant there was nothing the board could do legally to prevent the two major retailers landing off sales licenses.
Despite this, Mr Hunter has not ruled out another move to introduce an adjusted policy.
He said: “At the start of every licensing board term we are obliged by law to review our statement of licensing policy which we will start shortly.
“During this review we will consider overprovision and will determine what our next steps will be.”
Public Health Concern
Director of Public Health for NHS Tayside, Dr Emma Fletcher, has previously expressed concern about the number of alcohol retailers in Dundee.
She described alcohol availability as an important environmental factor for “influencing patterns of alcohol use”.
This concern is shared by the council’s licensing board.
Mr Hunter added: “Clearly one of the main reasons we decided on our last overprovision policy was due to the impact of alcohol consumption on public health.
“However, we will consider all evidence made available to us before we come to a decision on what we do next.”