A MASONIC club is set to cancel its biannual boxing shows after three decades following council demands for an £819 sport licence fee.
Officials at the Edinburgh Masonic Club said the charge would make the events “unsustainable”.
Council licensing officers recently visited the club, based in Shrub Place Lane off Leith Walk, and told members an indoor sports entertainment licence was needed to host the next event on May 5. Under council rules, licences are required to use a premises as a venue for sports entertainment where members of the public are admitted as spectators.
Club secretary and treasurer Jim MacLean said that the 220 tickets for the event, which will feature 12 bouts of amateur boxing from members of the Leith Victoria Amateur Athletic Club, will not be sold to the general public and the council fee was “wholly outrageous”.
The proposed licensing fee comes after the club was hit with an electric bill of over £100,000 in 2009. The club settled its dispute with British Gas after being offered “easy payments” and a £10,000 discount to meet the demand, which British Gas said was due to two meters on its premises which had never been billed.
Following the latest financial setback, Mr MacLean said: “The club has been hosting boxing shows since a few years after our building was constructed in 1975 and there’s never been an issue about public safety. We’ve staged around 70 events and the council have never bothered us before.
“We’re not turning the club into a sports venue, it’s only in part of the building while the rest goes on as normal for members who are not interested in boxing.”
The show would feature a dozen bouts involving youths and young men from the age of 12 upwards under licence from the East of Scotland Amateur Boxing Association.
Mr MacLean added: “These shows are expensive to put on because we need to install the ring in our hall and pay for a GP to be present. We already pay £25,000 a year in business rates and we’re determined to oppose this. But if the charge is imposed then there’s a strong likelihood that the club’s boxing shows will be discontinued. It would be unsustainable.
“We have about 220 tickets costing £12 each and almost all of them go to club members and representatives from the Leith boxing club. That pays for the event and if there was any overflow, that would go into the running of the club.”
Leith councillor Gordon Munro said he would like to see a licence discount given to the Masonic Club. He said: “It would be nonsensical for an established and reputable venue to face the full costs when these events have been going on for such a long time.”
Councillor Gavin Barrie, convener of the regulatory committee and licensing sub-committee, said: “We are aware of the applicant’s concerns and we will be in contact with the organisation to discuss options available to them.”
OUT AND A BOUT
Applicants for an indoor sports entertainment licence must submit an application form to the council’s licensing section.
A site notice has to be put up at or near the premises for 21 days, beginning on the date of the application. On receipt of the form and the appropriate fee, a copy is sent by the council to Lothian and Borders Police and two local authority departments – city development and services for communities.
The council keeps a record of the application, the final decision, details of the terms and a record of any suspensions, variations and surrender of the licence.