AROUND 30 pubs and clubs in the Borders are taking advantage of extra drinking hours for the live screening of matches during the Rugby World Cup, writes Andrew Keddie.
And on Friday, three applications which elicited misgivings from the police were granted by Scottish Borders Licensing Board.
As a result, the Auld Mill in Galashiels, the Black Swan in Kelso and the Red Lion in Earlston opened at 8am for last Sunday’s Pool B encounter between Scotland and Argentina and will do so again for Saturday’s crunch qualifier with England in Auckland.
The three premises will also be able to open at 8am for the quarter-finals which may involve Scotland, on October 8 and 9, and at 8.30am for the semi-finals, third/fourth place play-off and final on October 15, 16, 21 and 23.
While the vast majority of the applications for the early morning opening, subject to “food of a substantial nature” being offered and adequate stewarding, had been approved under powers delegated to officials at SBC’s licensing unit, the bids from the three pubs came before Friday’s meeting of the board because of police representations relating to the number of extensions sought.
In each case, Inspector John Scott said that while matches involving Scotland would constitute a special event under the Licensing (Scotland) Act, he could not accept that applied to any game, other than the final.
He commented: “All matches are being broadcast by ITV and therefore viewing is not exclusive to any licensed premises.
“In considering the licensing objective of protecting and improving public health, the police cannot support the early opening of premises without good reason.
“I am concerned that further extending the opening hours will merely increase the period of time over which patrons at these premises may consume alcohol and, as a result, increase potential for incidents of drunkenness, disorder and disturbance to local residents.”
However, the board unanimously approved the eight extensions, costing £10 each, on condition that the police are informed in advance if licensees decide not to take up the option.
Auld Mill licensee Scott Paterson told us: “We only find ourselves in this situation because of the time difference with the cup being contested in the Southern Hemisphere. We broke even on the Argentina game on Sunday morning and obviously hope for a busy pub when Scotland take on England.
“The consent allows us to keep our options for the closing stages of the tournament. Even if Scotland don’t make it through, our rugby fan regulars, who enjoy the atmosphere of watching games with their friends, will, I suspect, want to follow the fortunes of Ireland and Wales and the misfortunes of England.”