Police and health chiefs oppose Peebles pub's bid to relax rules on letting children in

Police and health chiefs are opposing a bid to allow children to stay in a Peebles pub for longer.

The County Inn in Peebles.
The County Inn in Peebles.

The County Inn has applied to Scottish Borders Council’s licensing department for permission to allow children to remain in it until 10pm if they are chaving dinner or until 8pm if they aren’t.

Under the terms of the High Street pub’s current licence, children must be out by 8pm and are only allowed in before that if they are dining.

The owner of the County Hotel, Suffolk’s Greene King brewery, wants a rethink, however, as it believes those restrictions are costing it custom.

A statement accompanying its application asks the council’s licensing committee to amend its terms so youngsters are not required to consume food to be allowed in before 8pm.

It reads: “Although this is usually the reason for the majority of visits, there are occasions when tourists accompanied by their children come in for refreshments without food, and we have to turn them away.

“The designated premises manager or their assistant will use discretion to ensure we comply with our licensing objective of protecting children from harm.”

On top of that, the County is asking to be allowed to sell alcohol from 11am on Sundays, an hour earlier than at present, and to let customers drink outside in designated areas.

Police Scotland chief constable Iain Livingstone, also area commander for the Lothians and Borders division, has written to the council’s licensing board to object to some of the proposed amendments.

He asks that “no permission be granted to any outside facility without full written permission for the area to be used and a clearly defined area, cordoned off by some reasonable visible means such as fencing, posts or tape”.

He also demands “that strict time constraints be placed on the area’s use so as to not cause a noise nuisance”.

Mr Livingstone is also opposed to children being allowed in other than to dine, saying: “The provision to allow children and young persons access to the premises for no other reason than to accompany adults drinking is wholly and completely against policy.”

Tim Patterson, interim joint director of public health for NHS Borders and the council, also objects to the bid, saying: “Exposure to alcohol and witnessing adult drinking can influence our children’s future drinking habits.

“Our children and young people have the right to grow up in an environment where communities are safe, thriving and are able to grow up safe from alcohol-related harm.

“I would recommend that amendments are made to the application to ensure clarity of terms of access for the purpose of consuming light refreshments or a meal unless attending a pre-arranged function.”

The council’s own licensing standards officer, Ian Tunnah, has added his voice to that opposition, saying: “If granted, this would allow children and young persons access for no other reason than to accompany an adult consuming alcohol.

“This would be entirely contrary to the licensing board’s policy which clearly indicates there should be reasons for children and young persons being on licensed premises, and there would be particular concerns where alcohol consumption is the primary purpose.

“I object to the request to allow children and young persons access to these premises simply to accompany an adult consuming alcohol.”

The licensing committee is due to meet tomorrow, November 16, to discuss the County’s application.