NEW and renewed licences will be dealt with more quickly as Clydebank workers and firms gradually return to work.

West Dunbartonshire Council’s licensing board last week agreed to delegate authority to the clerk, in consultation with the chairman, Councillor Ian Dickson.

This will be for occasional licence applications where there are “valid objections and/or representations made ... in respect of these applications”, according to a report to the board.

As coronavirus lockdown restrictions ease and outdoor pubs and restaurants were allowed to reopen from Monday, there were bids by licence holders to extend their existing permissions.

An “occasional licence” could allow a business to extend the area for serving alcohol to a car park or outside area, for example.

Rather than waiting for a full licensing board meeting in September to consider applications, the clerk and chair can make decisions more quickly with the temporary powers. This will let premises open “as soon as possible”.

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Cllr Dickson said: “We recognise the challenges faced by the licensed trade in the past few months and have been working extremely hard to ensure that these businesses are supported to adapt and recover as quickly and easily as possible as soon as government guidance permits.

“The new procedure agreed by the board means fixed-term occasional licenses can be considered in an accelerated process, alongside any comments and objections from the community, with a decision returned after seven days, rather than having to wait until our next board meeting.

“We have already visited a number of proposed sites and new applications are being received daily.”

Under the Coronavirus (Scotland) Act 2020, pubs and restaurants have been closed since March 20 – including through one of the most unseasonally sunny periods on record.

Phase 3 of reopening Scotland is currently set for July 15 when indoor hospitality venues such as pubs and restaurants can reopen – subject to physically distancing and public health advice.