Pay up or face action, council warns Borders pubs yet to stump up licence fees

The Macdonald Cardrona Hotel near Peebles.
The Macdonald Cardrona Hotel near Peebles.

Borders pubs, clubs, hotels and off-licences in arrears for fees for their licences to sell alcohol face being summoned to explain that oversight to councillors next month.

Almost 50 businesses have so far failed to hand over that the money, due since the start of October.

The old railway station in Melrose, now the Monte Cassino restaurant.

The old railway station in Melrose, now the Monte Cassino restaurant.

Their annual fees range from £220 to £800, depending on the rateable value of their businesses.

Establishments that face having their licences revoked if they don’t pay up include the Warehouse nightclub in Galashiels, the Macdonald Cardrona Hotel near Peebles, Gala Rugby Club, Melrose Golf Club, the Lychee Restaurant in Peebles and the Tweedside Hotel in Innerleithen.

However, some of those classed as having defaulted on payments have ceased trading, such as the High Level Bar in Hawick, Selkirk Football Club and the Keg in Peebles.

Members of Scottish Borders Council’s licensing board voiced anger at their meeting last Friday that so many businesses had not paid their dues.

Hawick and Hermitage councillor George Turnbull said: “I find this really frustrating. There’s 45 establishments here.

“I know some have ceased trading and one or two are having business troubles, but the others I just find totally inexcusable. There’s really no excuse for these to remain unpaid. It’s ridiculous.”

Ian Tunnah, licensing officer for the council, told councillors: “The simple fact is that this is a list of premises who haven’t paid their fee as of October 1. They are required to pay that fee under the terms of their licence.

“If fees are left unpaid, there are two routes which can be taken. One is for our officers to serve compliance notices on these premises or for yourselves to simply review the licences.

“Everybody gets a reminder in September. We also give everyone the chance to pay in quarterly instalments. It’s still due on October. 1”

Councillors unanimously agreed that any licences not paid for by then would be reviewed at the next meeting of the licensing board on Friday, December 14.

Mr Turnbull added: “I’d like to know if there’s a surcharge for this because we’re now doing extra work following up on these payments.

“If you don’t tax your car, you’ve broken the law. If you’re selling alcohol, you’ve broken the law if you haven’t paid your due fees.

“I think it’s time to take a far harder stance.

“There’ll be some valid reasons, but I just think we need to take a far firmer hand in light of there being 45 names on this list.”

Among the other establishments listed as having so far failed to pay their licence fees are the Allan Ramsay at Carlops, the Glentress Hotel at Innerleithen, the Kailzie Garden Restaurant near Peebles, West Linton Bowling Club, the Castle Hotel at Coldstream, the Costcutters in Duns and Earlston, the Cross Keys Inn at Lilliesleaf, the Country Store at Reston, the Craw Inn at Auchencrow, the Cross Inn at Paxton, the Cross Keys at Greenlaw, Duns Rugby Club, the Gordon Arms at Gordon, Greenlaw Store, Newtown St Boswells Bowling Club, 1905 in Kelso and the Naba Tandoori at Eyemouth.

Also listed are the A to Z Superstore, the Buccleuch Living Heritable Trust, Heatherlie House Hotel, New Happy Gathering Chinese restaurant and the former Raeburn Meadow Spar in Selkirk; the Gala Tandoori Indian Restaurant, Grapevine and H20 in Galashiels; the Monte Cassino restaurant and Provender at Melrose; the Railway Tavern and the Capon Tree Town House at Jedburgh; Hawick Bowling Club, Hawick Hawick Royal Albert Football Club’s clubrooms, Saffron Tandoori Restaurant, Sonia’s Bridge House Bistro, the Stag’s Head Bar and the Taste of Bengal, all in Hawick.