Licensing board shrugs off pub music objections

GV of Hunters Hall in Galashiels where they have been given permission for live music.
GV of Hunters Hall in Galashiels where they have been given permission for live music.

DESPITE objections from neighbours, pub giant J. D. Weatherspoon has been granted consent to host live bands at its Hunters Hall outlet in High Street, Galashiels.

The company wanted a variation of its operating plan “to permit live performances” from Scottish Borders Council Licensing Board which met on Friday.

The application covers the pub’s core hours, which extend to midnight on weekdays and until 1am on Thursday, Friday and Saturday.

Famous for having a “peace and quiet” policy when it was launched three decades ago, the chain, which has 815 outlets across the UK and recently opened its second Borders pub in Hawick, has clearly changed tack.

One objector who lives in nearby Bridge Street, told the board: “On numerous occasions we have heard loud music coming from the kitchen of Wetherspoon’s. This can be any time of day or night.

“A live band they had a few weeks ago was extremely loud and could be heard quite clearly throughout our house. They have had discos in the past which were also extremely loud.

“When Wetherspoon’s opened, they had a policy of no music, no televisions and no fruit machines. Therefore, we believe the building is not adequately soundproofed for this proposal which could affect the value of our property.”

Another Bridge Street resident concurred: “In the beginning, this was supposed to be a quiet family pub,” she said. “This is not the case any more.”

A third objector, who runs a bed and breakfast business in Bridge Street, recalled; “When J. D. Wetherspoon first renovated and opened the premises, we had several discussions with them and we did not object as it was made clear no music of any kind would be played.

“They have since introduced videos and music within the building and we have complained on several occasions.”

There were, however, no objections from the police or the board’s licensing standards officer.

Members were satisfied that the variation should be granted after hearing assurances from agents representing the company that live musical performances would only take place once a month and would cease no later than midnight.

“We were also told that there would no customer access to the beer garden/smoking area at the rear of the premises during performances and that the live music will be inaudible at neighbouring properties,” said board chairman Councillor Gavin Logan.

“The applicants have also assured us that an inaudibility test will be carried out during the first live performance, so we await the results of that exercise with interest.”