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Public Entertainment Licence

West Lothian Council operates a public entertainment licensing scheme (which includes firework displays) and is administered by the Council's Licensing Team. The Team are able to provide general guidance on the scheme but cannot assist you to complete your application form or provide legal advice on whether a licence is required.

If you are in doubt as to whether a licence is required you should ask yourself the following 3 questions -

  1. Does the entertainment being offered fall within the definition of public entertainment? 
  2. Is the type of entertainment offered included in the list of types of entertainment which requires a licence in West Lothian?
  3. Does one of the statutory exemptions apply? 

You should seek legal advice from a solicitor or advice centre if you are unsure as to whether you require a licence.

What is the definition of a place of public entertainment?

A place of public entertainment is defined in section 42 of the Civic Government (Scotland) Act 1982 as "any place where, members of the public are admitted or may use any facilities for the purposes of public entertainment".

Please note that the definition was amended in 2012 to remove any reference to the payment of money so that events which are free to enter now require to be licensed.

Which types of public entertainment require a licence from the Council?

The types of entertainment which require to be licensed differs from area to area. West Lothian Council resolved in 2012 that public entertainment licences are required for the use of premises or land within West Lothian where members of the public are admitted or may use any facilities for the purposes or entertainment or recreation of the following kinds:

  • Public dance halls including disco dancing establishments
  • Premises with mechanical rides or simulators intended for entertainment or amusement unless the rides are for the exclusive use of children under the age of five whilst supervised by an adult
  • Circuses
  • Exhibition of persons or performing animals
  • Fun fairs, including merry-go-rounds, roundabouts, swings, switchback railways, skittle alleys, coconut shies, hooplas, shooting galleries, mechanical riding, driving or boating apparatus, or anything similar to any of the foregoing
  • Indoor or open air music concerts involving the erection of temporary raised structures
  • Open air music concerts where in excess of 250 persons are present
  • Clay pigeon shooting
  • Paintball
  • Sports or activities involving the transportation or propulsion of persons whether by mechanical or other means including gravity
  • Any exhibition to which the Hypnotism Act 1952 applies
  • Any activity involving inflatable structures
  • Any activity involving shooting
  • Archery
  • Indoor play areas for children
  • Wrestling
  • Cage fighting
  • Mechanical bowling alleys
  • Premises used for laser displays or laser games
  • Firework displays or bonfires (NB a firework dispensation may also be required )
  • Adult entertainment - defined as "any form of entertainment which involves a person performing an act of an erotic or sexually explicit nature, and is provided wholly or mainly for the sexual gratification or titillation of the audience"

Please note that the following types of entertainment/premises do not need a public entertainment licence

  • Gymnasiums         
  • Health Clubs
  • Billiard, Snooker or Pool Halls
  • Concert Halls
  • Saunas
  • Massage Parlours
What premises are exempt?
  • an athletic or sports ground while being used as such;
  • premises in respect of which an indoor sports entertainment licence under section 41A of the Civic Government (Scotland) Act 1982 is required while such premises are being used for the purpose mentioned in that section;
  • an educational establishment while being used as such;
  • premises belonging to or occupied by any religious body while being used wholly or mainly for purposes connected with that body;
  • premises licensed under the Theatres Act 1968, the Cinemas Act 1985 or the Gambling Act 2005;
  • licensed premises within the meaning of the Licensing (Scotland) Act 2005 in which public entertainment is being provided during the licensed hours within the meaning of that Act, (as of 1 November 2016 this exemption applies to premises licensed by a premises licence under section 26 of the 2005 Act only, and no longer applies to premises licensed by an occasional licence under section 56 of the 2005 Act); or
  • premises in which machines for entertainment or amusement are being provided incidentally to the main purpose or use of the premises where that main purpose or use is not as a place of public entertainment.
Applying for a licence

If you want to apply for a public entertainment licence you must submit an application form along with the required documents and the appropriate fee if required, details of these can be found in the guidance notes attached to the application.

If you wish a temporary licence for a particular event your application should preferably be made at least 3 months before the event to allow time for the application to be processed. More notice will be required for events attracting large number of people. Applications must be received at least 35 days in advance of the date of the event. 

All applications are copied to the Council's advisors who can recommend that conditions in addition to the standard conditions detailed on this page are attached to the licence when granted. If you do not want to accept any recommended conditions then the application would be referred to the Licensing Committee for a decision to be made regarding which conditions will apply to your licence. Mandatory background checks will be carried out on all applicants by Police Scotland and applicants' details will be retained on computer.  You will be contacted once vetting is complete.

Decisions regarding licences

Applications which do not attract any adverse comments/objections are granted by the Chief Solicitor under delegated powers. All other applications require to be referred to the Licensing Committee for determination. You will be advised if your application is being referred to the Licensing Committee. The Committee meets on a monthly basis.

We have nine months in which to determine your application however the majority of applications are determined within 60 days. 

How can I apply to vary my licence?

If you are a current licence holder and wish to vary the types of public entertainment listed in your licence or the conditions  of your licence you need to make a variation application using the pdf icon Application to Vary Activities and Conditions [244kb] form and pay an administration fee. Please note that a separate application must be made for each licence which you wish to be varied. See the list of fees in the Related Documents section of this page.

Once your application form and fee are received a copy of your application will be sent to the Council's advisors for their comments. If there are no adverse comments received from advisors the licence can be varied by the Chief Solicitor using delegated powers.

However if any adverse comments are received the application would then need to be referred to the next suitable Licensing Committee for a decision to be taken. If your application needs to go to the committee the whole process may take three to four months depending on how long it takes for the advisors to respond. If your variation application is referred to committee you will be invited to attend the meeting to explain to the committee why you consider your application should be granted.

Complaints about traders

Complaints regarding licence holders may be made to the Licensing Team. These should be made in writing by email or letter providing full details of the nature of the complaint.

Complaints regarding unlicensed events should be made to Police Scotland by calling 101.


More information regarding  pdf icon current application fees [20kb] 

Guidance on Licensing Funfairs

The Scottish Government has published guidance on public entertainment licences in respect of funfairs you may find this a useful document to consult when applying for a licence pdf icon Guidance on Funfairs [146kb]