Licensing hitch could hold up opening of biggest beer garden in Borders

A licensing oversight is threatening to hold up plans for what’s being billed as the biggest beer garden in the Borders.

Thursday, 2nd July 2020, 10:22 pm
Updated Friday, 3rd July 2020, 12:38 am
Hawick Rugby Club president Rory Bannerman getting ready for next week's planned beer garden opening.

Bosses at Hawick Rugby Club are turning the pitch at their Mansfield park ground into an open-air drinking area and hope to open it next Tuesday, July 7.

Boozing in beer gardens and outdoor spaces is allowed from that date onwards as the Scottish Government relaxes its coronavirus lockdown laws, and the club is hoping to serve its first drinks then after a private practice run for players and officials the day before.

However, it’s emerged that the club’s licence for its bar doesn’t cover the pitch at the ground and that an occasional licence is needed for its new beer garden.

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It’s now put an application in and is holding talks with Scottish Borders Council officers and police representatives tomorrow, July 3, in the hope of getting that licensing mix-up resolved as soon as possible, but it’s unsure whether it will be able to sort out the necessary paperwork by Tuesday.

If not, it will have to scrap its planned opening early next week and wait until a licence is granted, assuming its plans get the thumbs-up.

Club officials and council officers issued a joint statement today, July 2, saying: “Hawick Rugby Football Club and Scottish Borders Council would like to confirm that they continue to work together with a view to the club holding beer garden events on the pitch.

“The club requires an occasional licence for these events to take place and has submitted an application today to Scottish Borders Council.

“A safety advisory group meeting involving the club, council and other relevant partners, including Police Scotland, will take place tomorrow to enable detailed discussions to take place on all necessary matters, including public health.

“In light of this, the club is reviewing its plans for events currently scheduled for the early part of next week.

“Both the club and the council are hopeful that the planned event on Saturday 11 July, which has already been fully booked, will be able to take place, subject to all public health matters being resolved and the necessary licence being approved.”

It is intended that the beer garden, inspired by a similar one opened by Barrow Raiders in Cumbria, will be open 4pm to 8pm from Monday to Thursday, from noon to 8pm on Fridays and Saturdays and from noon to 4pm on Sundays.

Customers are being asked to call 01450 390390 to reserve tables at weekends, but no booking is required from Monday to Thursday.

All tables are already taken for next Saturday but some are available the day before, subject to a licence having been obtained by then.