Page last updated at 23:56 GMT, Wednesday, 5 August 2009 00:56 UK

Concern at early alcohol sale ban

bottles of wine
The new laws will come into force on 1 September this year

New licensing laws in Scotland could cost traders early morning sales of alcohol, according to the industry.

Legislation will come into place in September banning the sale of wine and spirits in off-sales before 1000 GMT.

Karen Gibson, of Dumfries business TB Watson, said it would cost them six hours of trade a week but do nothing to tackle binge drinking.

The Scottish Government said the law tried to balance the need for public protection with responsible trading.

Ms Gibson claimed independent traders would be "badly affected" by the early morning alcohol ban as well as the increase in the cost of a licence.

There is evidence from our major retail members that it is going to have an impact on their customer base
Gavin Partington
Wine and Spirits Trade Association

"We are going to lose six hours of trading a week and are having to spend thousands of pounds to get our new licence," she said.

"The Borders and Dumfries are going to be hit harder than other parts of the country because tourists will just go across the border to get their whisky."

Ms Gibson also questioned who would be most affected by the switch to 1000 GMT for the beginning of alcohol sales.

She said: "Between 9am and 10am we get tourists in getting whisky to take home and local people picking up a nice bottle of wine to have with their dinner.

"These are not the sort of people who cause problems."

Gavin Partington, of the Wine and Spirits Trade Association (WSTA), also criticised the ban on early sales from off-licences.

"There is evidence from our major retail members that it is going to have an impact on their customer base," he said.

He said parents dropping children at school or pensioners trying to avoid busy hours later in the day were among those who would be most affected.

'Protecting individuals'

"They are not the people with the problem with alcohol misuse but they are the people who are going to be impacted by some of these new rules," he said.

"It just seems to us that this is the law of unintended consequences."

A Scottish Government spokesman said the laws - put forward by the previous administration - had tried to take on board the needs of business while tackling alcohol abuse.

"The act sets off-sales hours of 1000 to 2200 as the maximum that can be applied for," he said.

"It is for each licensing board to determine hours in their own area.

"While this restricts off-sales at certain times of the day, it also extends the window for off-sales on a Sunday."

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