More than 500 people trained to work in the hospitality and retail industries in Aberdeen had their personal licences revoked yesterday for failing to comply with new legislation.
The decision by Aberdeen Licensing Board, on a five to one vote, means that 518 people will lose their licences and be unable to re-apply for a five year period.
It is understood the ruling applies to workers in 78 bars, restaurants, corner shops and supermarkets operating across the city. In some cases, a new premises manager will have to be appointed.
The lone member of the board who voted against the move, SNP councillor Graham Dickson, warned that people’s livelihoods could be at risk in the run-up to Christmas.
However, a representative of the local licensed trade association said many of the 518 listed may have left the industry or retired.
All personal licence holders are required to undergo refresher training within five years of the granting of their licence, under the terms of the Licensing (Scotland) Act 2005.
Mr Dickson, ward councillor for Torry and Ferryhill, argued members of the licensing board could have exercised “discretion”.
He added: “We could have told people to surrender their licences prior to them being banned for five years and then re-apply with the correct training. Also, the legislation did not require us to make an immediate decision, but we have delegated that power to officers.”
Licensing board chairwoman Marie Boulton said: “We have taken this decision because we have no choice other but to comply with the law.
“I would stress, however, that this does not mean that those who are having their personal licences revoked can no longer work in the licensed trade – it simply means they can no longer legally be a designated manager.”
Colin Cameron, owner of the Masada, Kirkgate and Bridge bars and director of the Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire Licensed Trade Association, said the 518 figure could be deceptive.
He said: “I think it is a bit harsh. It could be, however, that a number of these people are no longer in the trade.
“The only fear is that there could be six or 12 for whom this is very important, they may be in a position of being a premises manager or whatever.”
The board agreed that the five year ban was “harsh”, and will lobby the Scottish Government to consider a revision to the current legislation as part of the forthcoming Air Weapons and Licensing Bill.