Neighbour objection fails to stop bar bid

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An angry neighbour has failed to scupper a Peebles pub’s bid for a licence extension.

Michael Needham had written to the Scottish Borders Licensing Board objecting to The Central Bar in the town’s Northgate being permitted to sell alcohol until 1am on a Thursday night.

“The pub is the roughest in Peebles,” wrote Mr Needham. “The later it is, the noisier it is.

“If anything, I would be looking for the pub to reduce its hours of operation, definitely not increase them.”

He claimed there were often fights outside the premises and that staff failed to adequately police customers and made no attempt to resolve disturbances.

Mr Needham cited trouble during the recent Scotland v Wales Six Nations rugby match in February when he claimed the pub was “temporarily closed” by the police.

But Sergeant Keith Bendall, representing Police Scotland, told the board there was no record of this alleged incident.

And board chairman, Councillor Willie Archibald, noting that Mr Needham was not in attendance, advised colleagues to give “no weight” to the allegation.

Central Bar licensee Roddy Mackay told Friday’s meeting he needed the extra hour on a Thursday night to match the operating times of the Wetherspoon public house and restaurant which had recently opened on the site of the former Cross Keys, also in Northgate.

“When Wetherspoon came to town, all the other licensed premises were told by Peebles Community Council that they would have to up their game,” said Mr Mackay.

“That is what I am attempting to do, but for a small local business to compete with a multi-national pub chain just two doors away, we require a level playing field.”

Seeking a variation of his premises licence, which already allows him to stay open till 1am Friday and Saturday, Mr Mackay went on: “The Central Bar is what I would call a unique traditional pub which does not provide food or put on entertainment.

“Wetherspoon’s has brought a lot of extra people into Northgate and we know that 80% of visitors to towns in the Borders visit a pub or restaurant during their stay, so we are simply looking for a fair share of that trade so we can, indeed, up our game.”