Alcohol Focus Scotland

Dear Community Council

Alcohol Focus Scotland (AFS) is the national charity working to prevent and reduce alcohol-related harm. We are seeking the support of community councillors to develop an alcohol licensing toolkit for community members, and yours views about engaging with the local licensing system.

One in four of us are drinking at potentially harmful levels and alcohol claims ten lives every day in Scotland. AFS is not anti-alcohol but we do believe that our relationship with alcohol needs to change. Controlling the supply of alcohol is something that public authorities have done for centuries to reduce the risk of harm from alcohol. Alcohol licensing is a system of granting permission for the sale of alcohol, and local licensing boards decide who can sell alcohol, and where and when it can be sold. However, licensing boards are legally required to consult with community councils about specific matters relating to alcohol licensing in the local area. They are also about to consult with communities in order to develop new local licensing policies. 

AFS is therefore seeking community councillors to help us develop an alcohol licensing toolkit. Our initial work in this area was in 2017, when we worked with several community councils to co-produce a community toolkit resource (attached); it explains how the licensing process works and provides practical tips to help people get involved. 

People have told us that the toolkit has helped to strengthen their voice in licensing decisions but there remains an overall lack of community engagement in alcohol licensing. This is a concern for licensing decision makers, who want to know that they are making the right decisions for their communities, but it’s an even bigger concern for communities themselves, who are being impacted by alcohol and have a right to be heard.

As such, AFS is updating the toolkit to account for changes in the licensing system since it was first produced. As community councils represent the views of the community, and have a statutory role in the licensing system, they are particularly well placed to contribute to this work.  We are seeking:

  • The contact details of community councillors who would be willing join a short-life advisory group to inform the update of the community toolkit. 
  • Your views about the possibility of developing a separate community councils’ guide to alcohol licensing.
  • Details about your experiences of engaging (or not!) with the local alcohol licensing system.
  • Information about how alcohol is impacting on your community, and any changes that may have occurred as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic.

If you or any other community councillors would be willing to join a short-life advisory group, or have information you’d like to share in relation to any of the above, please contact Marc Buchanan (AFS Engagement and Partnerships Coordinator):

By post: Alcohol Focus Scotland,166 Buchanan StGlasgow, G1 2LW

By Email:

By phone: 0141 572 6200

We have also attached an FAQ that provides some background information about alcohol licensing and a list of AFS’s licensing resources. We hope this will provide useful context and help to answer any questions you may have.

Kind regards

Marc Buchanan

AFS Engagement and Partnerships Coordinator”