Hawick pub boss vents anger over blow to expansion bid

Deans' Bar in Hawick.
Deans' Bar in Hawick.

A pub boss facing a £6,000 bill for installing a new ventilation system at his Hawick bar says he feels victimised by Scottish Borders Council officers.

Mark Deans bought the former Hawick YM Rugby Club venue in Orrock Place almost three years ago and renamed it Deans’ Bar.

Business has been going well, so the 41-year-old recently contacted the council to ask about reopening the club’s old function room at the back of the premises.

However, he’s had to put a series of planned functions for up to 70 people on hold after he was told that before reopening it, he would need to install a full ventilation system.

Mr Deans estimates that will cost him £6,000 and says the council directive, resulting in planning consent being refused, a decision he intends to appeal against, means his business isn’t being treated fairly and could be forced to close, putting its 10 staff out of work.

He said: “I’ve had an absolute nightmare with this function room.

“The YM used that function room right up until the day it closed for holding anything they liked, and then the day that I buy it, all of a sudden, there’s an issue with ventilation.

“They are expecting me to pay thousands and thousands of pounds for a ventilation system which has never been needed before. I just don’t see the difference between what I want to do and what the YM were doing in the past.

“I have not made an appeal yet because this was just finalised before Christmas, but I intend to.

“It’s an expanding the business. It’s just red tape after red tape, and I feel like I’m banging my head against a brick wall.

“They are wanting us to put an in air-conditioning unit, which will cost in the region of £6,000.

“I said that I would put vents in the walls, as every other pub has around the town. I feel that this is victimisation.

“This is a tough trade as it is, and I’ve already had to knock back requests for use of the function room. I’ve lost three or four functions straight away and I have another lined up which I can’t honour now.

“We’re not looking for a favour. We just want to operate on the same even playing field as other folks.

“There have been other clubs open after us with function rooms with no ventilation.”

The ventilation requirement emerged after Mr Deans submitted an application to the council to reinstate two windows, a bid refused last month over concerns about noise disturbing neighbours.

A council spokesman said: “The applicant has the right to seek a review of the planning decision by submitting an appeal to our local review body.”

“He will need to raise this or other matters he considers relevant to his case.”

In his report on Mr Deans’ application, council planner Stuart Herkes says: “I find the use of the function room for the accommodation of customers and their entertainment, including music and bands, in combination with the insertion of the proposed windows, has resulted in operation of the public bar that is liable to have unacceptable impacts upon the residential amenity of nearby residential properties.”