License extension granted for Halloween bash

IN the wake of a row over Newton Stewart’s licensing hours being cut by an hour, one couple have successfully managed to appeal for an extension to hold a Halloween party until 2am.

Derek and Sinead Hart, publicans of The Crown Hotel on Queen Street, were granted the license for the evening of 29 October following a meeting of Wigtown Divisional Licensing Board on Friday where they outlined their case and explained that since having their 2am license cut in March - along with others in the town - their business has suffered.

Sinead told the Board at Wigtown County Buildings: “It’s not that we necessarily want to be open until 2am but our customers do and we operate an on-demand service to them. Also, we don’t think Stranraer should be allowed to open until 2am if we can’t.

“We have suffered since March and this application isn’t about greed, like Mr Andrews said recently in the press. It’s about us staying afloat. Our customers had become accustomed to a 2am finish and we’re now losing them to Stranraer.”

Explaining that extended licenses may be applied for to cover special events, depute clerk William Taylor suggested to the board that Halloween should be classed in that category and could be considered for an extension.

Sinead added that the Halloween party in the pub has become an annual event which has been reported by journalists for its success and which requires an investment by them to provide costumes, staff, cocktails, decorations and games.

Her husband Derek said: “What we want from today is to be able to offer customers a Halloween party in their own hometown without having to make that journey up the road for the evening.”

Mr Taylor explained that the Board must govern licensing in the area, and must meet objectives laid out in the Licensing Scotland Act which include mitigating nuisance and crowd noise.

Sinead added: “We have been told by the Chief Inspector that we have an exemplary record in this area and we continue to meet the objectives expected of us. We’ve had no complaints from neighbours, that we’ve been informed of.”

She said there is a manager who guides revellers into taxis and away from the vicinity within 20 minutes of the pub closing, watched by police from a distance.

Derek continued; “It’s about letting local people come together for the night to have some fun. Why should Stranraer have the right to celebrate the same event for longer?”

The couple told the Board that there would be between eight and 12 staff on duty and they expected up to 250 people through the doors, but only in their downstairs bar and not using their function room.

Following a lengthy adjournemnt, the Board resumed and took a vote which saw councillors John Dougan and Roberta Tuckfield vote against the application, counillors Iain Dick and Sandra McDowall vote for it, with the casting vote going to councillor Graham Nicol.

A meeting to review Wigtownshire’s licensing hours will be held next month and convenor Iain Dick said he would appreciate any input from publicans.