A SCHEME to reduce alcohol-related crime is being launched in Galashiels, writes Kenny Paterson.
A total of 17 out of 19 licensed premises in the town have signed up to take part in the Best Bar None preject.
First tested by Greater Manchester Police in 2003, the scheme aims to reduce crime by asking pubs to take part in assessment, mentoring and evaluation.
The convener of the Scottish Borders Licensing Board, Councillor Gavin Logan, hopes the initiative will be introduced to other Border towns if it succeeds in Galashiels.
Mr Logan said: “I am delighted that the Best Bar None scheme has been taken up by so many licensed premises in Galashiels.
“I know it has had great success in West Lothian and I look forward to this being replicated here. Those of us involved in licensing issues welcome any initiative that will assist in promoting sensible drinking and reducing alcohol-related incidents.”
Best Bar None Scotland was developed in partnership with the Scottish Government, police, local licensing boards and the Scottish Licensed Trade Association among others.
Best Bar None focuses on five issues: prevention of crime and disorder, public safety, preventing public nuisance, promoting public health and protecting children.
Julie Murray, strategic co-ordinator for the Borders Alcohol and Drug Partnership (ADP), said: “The ADP fully supports the implementation of this scheme which aims to reduce alcohol related crime and disorder.
“Best Bar None is very effective across the UK and it is encouraging that the licensees in Galashiels are proactively addressing the five licensing objectives.”
Eddie Tobin, chairman of the Scottish Late Night Operators Association, said: “Best Bar None Scotland offers a significant opportunity to demonstrate the hard work and commitment staff put into ensuring that premises are a safe and friendly environment, and will help generate a more positive image of the night-time economy.”
The culmination of the scheme will be overall gradings, from which pubs could gain a gold, silver or bronze award.
Licensing board members hope that Best Bar None will be more successful than Pubwatch, a previous initiative aimed at stamping out violent and anti-social behaviour in Galashiels.
TheSouthern reported in May that a number of licensed premises in the town were not part of the Pubwatch scheme, including Niki’s Bar, where the licensee, Niki Fitgerald, labelled it a “shambles”.