Galashiels students win fight for right to party

The MacArts Centre in Galashiels.
The MacArts Centre in Galashiels.

An extended alcohol licence has been granted to the organisers of a Moulin Rouge-themed party for students despite objections from neighbours.

Laurence Reid, director of the MacArts Centre in Galashiels, has been given the go-ahead to extend the opening hours of its bar until midnight this coming Sunday, September 2, to host a student night.

Nicole Kidman and Ewan McGregor in the 2001 Baz Luhrmann film Moulin Rouge!

Nicole Kidman and Ewan McGregor in the 2001 Baz Luhrmann film Moulin Rouge!

That application triggered an objection from neighbours Heather and Andrew Aikman, but their opposition was overruled by councillors.

In the objection they submitted to Scottish Borders Council, they wrote: “The main objection is that on a Sunday, there is no need for this licence to be any later than 11pm because, as this is mainly a residential street, there are those of us who are early-morning risers due to work commitments.

“We’d also like to raise the issue of noise due to the doors being left open when people are stood outside smoking.”

The event, part of this year’s freshers’ week at the town’s Heriot-Watt University campus, will see fashion and art students dress up in homage to the Moulin Rouge, the Parisian burlesque venue that inspired the 2001 Hollywood film of that name starring Ewan McGregor and Nicole Kidman.

Appearing before Scottish Borders Council’s licensing board last Friday, Mr Reid said: “MacArts is a voluntary and charitable organisation.

“We run a varied programme of arts and music, and we apply for occasional licences when needed.

“I thought this application was quite innocuous as it’s within council policy and there are six licensed premises open until midnight within a stone’s throw of us anyway.

“Heriot-Watt students wanted to run a disco party, a Moulin Rouge one with a dress-up element.

“I was quite taken aback by the objection. I’ve tried to meet with the objectors but they weren’t keen. We’ve never had any complaints from those people before.

“I also spoke to the students’ association and their point was why would they run this event if it had to shut before every other venue in town? It’s not even a live band. It’s just background music at an event.

“As it’s within policy, I’m quite taken aback by the fact they objected and wouldn’t talk to us.”

Speaking in favour of granting an occasional licence to the Bridge Street venue, Hawick and Hermitage councillor Davie Paterson said: “There is an issue that if we granted it and there was noise we could look at it again next year, but for now I have no problem with this.

There were no objections from the council’s licensing team or from Police Scotland, and councillors voted unanimously to grant the licence.

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