Pubs are calling for an overhaul to licence fees which they are having to pay at the same levels as before – despite being forced to shut partially or completely since March.
Boozers in and around Dundee are still being expected to pay their full annual fee for their premises licence to the Licensing Board, despite months of coronavirus restrictions.
The Tele has seen one document, sent to a city pub, which threatens to revoke its licence if it does not cough up the full cost, despite profits taking a massive hit.
Now pubs in the City of Discovery are calling for “more compassion” and a review into the charges this year.
Jimmy Marr, director of City Centre Pubs which is behind The Caird, is among those calling for a re-think.
He said: “Quite simply the licensed trade is on its backside at the moment, that’s the harsh reality of it.
“I do think after this current state of lockdown it’s increasingly likely more pubs won’t come back from this.
“I’m aware some of my tenants have raised a question to the council about the annual fee and they’ve been told ‘it’s got to be paid’.
“Why are the local authority, given the current climate, not offering premises an opportunity to pay it up or offer a reduced rate given the challenging circumstances the industry is facing this year?”
He said that while pubs had been able to apply for the same business support grants as other firms, hospitality had suffered more than any other industry.
“Now the licensed trade has been forced to close again, and even prior to the closure, was offering a significantly reduced operation,” he added.
“There has got to be some more compassion shown to traders during this period.”
Debbie Findlay from the Eagle Coaching Inn in Broughty Ferry echoed the sentiments of Mr Marr, and said the industry was merely “running on fumes” at the moment.
She added: “There is no doubt the pub trade has been hit the hardest during these lockdown measures.
“We did receive a business support grant which was greatly appreciated but we went from a position of having an income to having absolutely nothing.
“The support grant went to paying outstanding bills for water, gas, electric and also the continual maintenance costs of the pub.
“Because the lockdown was so sudden the first time around we had to waste a lot of kegs which were already opened which was costly.
“We are going to be facing the same scenario again with this recent closure with wasted stock, we are literally running on fumes at the moment.
“All the changes that have come into effect – handgel, table service and other measures – have come at a cost to licensed premises.
“With that being said I do think there should be some sort of let-up, if you’re not open, you’re not open.
“Surely Dundee City Council can see that? The local authority has got to understand this and support us.”
A spokesman for Dundee City Council said: “During discussions around fees and charges it was decided to continue with the fee and charging levels during the Covid-19 pandemic due to the licensing board’s operating costs continuing.
“Restaurants and bars which were closed due to Scottish Government guidance had access to support packages such as business support grants and 100% relief of rates for retail, hospitality and leisure businesses.”