The recent changes in the licensing laws in the area, restricting the selling of alcohol to midnight instead of 1am in pubs, is not going down well within the licensing trade.
Last week The Galloway Gazette heard from Tricia Regan from the Cree Inn, who said her trade would be affected, especially as their regular charity events did not qualify for a late licence.
Another publican, who didn’t want to be named, was limited in his sympathies for fellow publicans affected by the new rules.
He said: “The Cree Inn are quite right to moan, but when the Central and the Crown got the hour taken off them nine months ago (back to 1am from 2am), no-one was concerned because it didn’t affect them. But it’s at their door now.
“The Central and the Crown are allowed to sell alcohol until 1am because both provide music and stewards. But no-one else provided them.
“We have tried repeatedly to get a late licence until 2am for parties but the licensing board knocks the applications back every time. It is totally unfair and has cost me a lot of money.
“To be honest, I’m sick of fighting this. Anyway, there is no-one left in the town now. They’re all going to Stranraer. Newton Stewart is turning into a ghost town.”
A spokesman for Dumfries and Galloway Council said: “The board’s licensed hours policy allows a later hour where attraction facilities are in place. This policy was first agreed by the board in 2007. However, it mirrored exactly the regular extension policy which had been formulated under the previous licensing system. It has been in existence for at least 10 years.
“Recently, the board, following a detailed consultation process, made a supplementary licensing policy statement with the intention of clarifying the type of attraction facilities which the board would expect to be taking place in the extra hour. This clarification came into effect on April 1, 2012.
“In making this amendment, the board has retained the flexibility to add to the list of attraction facilities. Also the board recognises that there may be exceptions to policy which could be the subject of an extended hours application to cover a particular event. Also, a licence-holder can make a major variation application that the board consider the operation of the premises to the later hour without attraction facilities, as an exception to policy.”