Special licensing arrangements for funfairs, and controls on private parking charges, are the two latest proposals for members' bills at Holyrood to be put to public consultation.
A Licensing of Funfairs Bill is the aim of Richard Lyle, SNP member for Uddingston & Bellshill, who believes funfairs that move from place to place suffer from the present regime under the Civic Government (Scotland) Act 1982. This gives local authorities a wide degree of flexibility, so that operators are at the mercy of local variances "ranging from a refusal to accept temporary applications to having a requirement for the applicant to pay a separate fee for each ride at the fair", Mr Lyle claims in the foreword to his consultation.
He continues: "The totality of these local variances is untenable and intolerable for travelling fairs. The reality is that the licensing framework under the 1982 Act creates a barrier of local 'red tape' which has resulted in a decimation of these important cultural, social and family events. My proposal will address these problems by creating a new fair, proportionate and consistent licensing system that allows local authorities to retain control of applications, but also allows operators to be able to manage their businesses more effectively.
"It is important to stress that my proposal will not affect the health and safety aspect of travelling fairs, which is of course of vital importance, as that is regulated through the Health and Safety Executive."
Meanwhile Murdo Fraser, Consrevative member for Mid-Scotland & Fife, is proposing to bring in a Regulation of Privately-Operated Car Parks Bill, to deal with "unfair penalty notices" – charges of up to £160 for short overstays, or a mistake in entering a vehicle registration number at a ticket machine, for example.
When threats of court proceedings are made, he states, "Unsurprisingly, many of the recipients of these notices, particularly the elderly and vulnerable, have felt intimidated into paying up even when notices are not justified."
Mr Fraser recognises that it is "something of an urban myth" that private penalty notices are not enforceable, but doubts that a penalty notice of £160 would ever be held to be reasonable in a Scottish court. He continues: "It is precisely because the current law is unclear and inconsistent that I believe there is a greater need for regulation of private car parking in Scotland, and, as a result, I am bringing forward this consultation on a proposed bill."
He does not wish to make the operation of car parks a more difficult enterprise for private operators, "but rather to strike a fair balance between the interests of the car park operator and those of their clients".
His bill would address the issues of excessive charges, the inconsistency of signage, the process for appealing imposed penalties, and the presentation of invoices. "Also, to ensure that issues of fairness to operators are also considered, I want to examine the introduction of keeper liability, which would help operators to identify those who would become liable for penalties."
Click here to access the proposals. The deadline for comments on Mr Lyle's proposal is 26 February 2018, and on Mr Fraser's proposal 2 March 2018.