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Council / Warnings to be issued over late licensing fee payments

Lerwick Town Hall.

THE PREMISES licence holders of a shop, a restaurant and a guest house will be warned over late payment of an annual fee.

The late payment of fees for the Mossbank Shop, and Lerwick’s Phu Siam and Glen Orchy, was discussed at a meeting of the Shetland licensing board on Monday.

Councillors on the board agreed to send out written warnings over the payments, which are due by October each year. Reminders were sent out by licensing staff.

Members heard that the £220 fee for the Mossbank shop was paid shortly after the matter was raised at the board’s last meeting on 6 April.

Council solicitor Keith Adam said an application for transferring the premises licence was ongoing after the property changed hands in early 2020.

There was debate over whether the warning should be delivered to the current licence holder – who the meeting heard is no longer involved in the running of the business – or the current operator.

But members agreed to write to both to remind them about the responsibilities around paying fees on time.

Lerwick member Malcolm Bell said that a considerable amount of work had been placed on licensing staff in pushing for the payment.

“It has been a tough year for everybody but most people have managed to abide by the conditions,” he added.

Adam, meanwhile, told the board that Phu Siam and Glen Orchy in Lerwick paid their fees – £220 and £280 respectively – last Monday. they share the same licence holder.

Members were able to vary licences or revoke them, but they felt warnings were more appropriate.

Adam told members that the fees go towards the running of the licensing board, adding that most premises are happy to pay up, including country halls and small businesses.

“They have to an extent subsidised the three premises here for their non payments,” he commented.

Board members were keen to impress the need for fees to be paid on time – with North Mainland member Alastair Cooper saying that “it will not be tolerated again”.

South mainland member George Smith said: “Clearly this has been a difficult period for all premises, but we have seen the vast majority paying their fees.”

Lerwick councillor Stephen Leask also questioned if financial penalties could be an option to make up for the staff time spent on chasing unpaid fees.

Adam – who said late payments were a national issue – replied by saying it was perhaps “regrettable” that this does not feature in licensing legislation.

Smith warned that if late payments continued then there could be the risk of fees needing to be increased in the future.