North Berwick licence plea amid fears of a 'mini-Blackpool' in East Lothian

A seaside town could become a mini Blackpool if a restaurant is allowed to serve alcohol on a local green during the summer, it has been claimed.

Stunning and tranquil - North Berwick
Stunning and tranquil - North Berwick

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Stirling Stewart, owner of The Rocketeer in North Berwick, has applied for a series of occasional licences to allow him to serve alcohol at an outside seating area from the end of this month.

However, the move has brought more than a dozen complaints from local residents after his proposal suggested using Anchor Green, which borders the restaurant. It is home to a Celtic cross and is a popular spot.

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Blackpool is not exactly North Berwick

Applying for three occasional licences for the site, Mr Stewart has told East Lothian Council’s licensing board that both Hew Dalrymple, the owner of the land, and the nearby Seabird Centre have given a thumbs-up to his proposal.

In an application which will go before the board for a decision next week, he says: “During social distancing measures, we would look to put our tables and chairs outside on the grass area, as internally there is not enough space to keep customers the required distance apart.

“We would use our biodegradable plates, boxes, cutlery and glasses that we use for our takeaway.

“The owner of the land and the Seabird Centre, who lease the land, have confirmed that they are happy for us to use the land.”

North Berwick is famed for its stunning coastline

A planning application from Mr Stewart to allow the green to be used as outdoor seating by the restaurant for three years was refused by the council’s planners last month.

Now objections have been lodged against any alcohol licence being approved for the same site.

One objector likened the proposals to the famous Lancashire coast resort which is world-renowned for its illuminations.

They said: “I can see North Berwick becoming a mini Blackpool without the illuminations.”

Mobbed: Blackpool Beach

Another branded the proposals “ridiculous”, adding: “Is this the image we want not just for our beautiful harbour but for our town centre in general?”

Others claimed that the move would be “hijacking”, the green which is a popular spot for families and visitors to relax.

The board will meet to make its decision virtually on Thursday.

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