Publican’s plea to licensing board as mountain bikers are turned away

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AN Innerleithen publican has won the backing of the Scottish Licensed Trade Association in seeking a relaxation of her operating rules.

Cath Brown, of the St Ronan’s Hotel – known in the Peeblesshire town as the “top pub” – has applied to the Scottish Borders Licensing Board, which meets in Galashiels tomorrow, for permission to keep children, designated in the Licensing Scotland Act as those aged under 16, on her premises until 9pm, rather than current curfew of 7pm.

And she wants young people, aged 16 and 17, to be allowed in the pub until 11pm: a two-hour extension on her present premises licence granted in 2009.

“It’s not that I necessarily like having children in the pub,” Mrs Brown told TheSouthern. “But it’s a case of financial necessity and making our business and particularly our restaurant more family friendly.”

Mrs Brown said she had received support in her bid to vary her premises licence from Steve Mudie, president of the SLTA, who is increasingly concerned at continued closures of licensed premises in Scotland.

“Steve has kindly agreed to write me a little spiel that I can present to the board,” explained Mrs Brown.

“Innerleithen has become a mecca for mountain bikers, attracted by the runs at Elibank, and pubs who can’t entertain youngsters after 7 or 9pm are losing out, and so is the town.

“Two weeks ago, three mountain bikers came in for a meal at about 8.30pm after a big competition.

There was a 17-year-old, his older brother and his dad, and I had to tell them I would have to ask the youngster to leave at 9pm.

“Not surprisingly, they headed off to other premises which, I assume, were not so restricted.

“If Innerleithen is to flourish after its various knock-backs on the jobs front, then it must be able to service the visitors who come here.

“At the moment I just cannot do that, so I hope the board will be sympathetic.”

The age concession is one of several amendments being sought to the pub’s operating plan.

Mrs Brown also wants to open at 11am on Sundays for both on and off-sales, but she has decided not to seek a special licence to cover her large beer garden to the rear.

“I should have included the beer garden in my original premises licence application, but at the moment customers can take a drink outside, but not receive a waiter service,” she said.

In response to the application to accommodate children and young people for an extra two hours, the police say in a statement to the board: “As no specific reason is being given for their presence I would ask that the board consider if these terms are appropriate when considering the ‘protecting children from harm’ objective of the legislation.”