Council chiefs have been urged to make use of new licensing powers to help Aberdeen businesses get back on their feet after Covid-19.
Under new temporary measures introduced by the Scottish Government, local authorities are able to grant “occasional” licences, which can be approved more quickly by the clerk and convener without a full meeting of licensing boards.
Ministers said the powers would be available to councils in the event of short-term situations – such as premises opening outdoor areas to accommodate social distancing.
However, one bar in Aberdeen has been told it could be more than a week before a licence is granted – even though other councils in Scotland have made decisions in around 24 hours.
Soul plans to open a pop-up al fresco bar on Saturday at the former site of Bruce Millers music shop on Union Street.
But owners PB Devco have been told it may be a week before a licence is granted.
Director Paul Clarkson said: “We submitted the application last week so the council know we have a date for opening we are aiming for.
“The Scottish Government are doing all they can to help the trade, which has been absolutely decimated by lockdown.
“Outdoor areas have been really successful, and we are doing this because of the appetite there is from people who are coming to visit.
“But there is this stumbling block in the way.
“The Scottish Government have issued councils with these powers – they need to help businesses out by using them.”
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Soul are being supported by north-east Conservative MSP Liam Kerr, who has written to Aberdeen City Council’s licensing board urging them to take immediate action.
He said: “All of the licensing trade in Aberdeen has been hit hard by the consequences of the coronavirus and it’s vital occasional licences are issued as soon as possible.
“There needs to be some consistency right across Scotland with the timeframes of when the licences are issued and if the Borders and Edinburgh can do this within 24 hours then I’m determined for this to be the same for Aberdeen.
“Soul Bar has come up with the innovative idea of turning part of the Bruce Millers site into an al-fresco pop-up bar for the people of Aberdeen to come and enjoy.
“Everything should be done to ensure the licencing process is made a priority to prevent these plans from being jeopardised.
“It’s vital local businesses like Soul are supported and I hope the licencing board can act as soon as possible to allow the licensing process to be granted in time for opening this weekend.”
Aberdeen City Council licensing committee convener Marie Boulton said she could not comment on an outstanding application..