Pub drink discounts reprieved

PUBS in the Capital are set to continue offering discounts on drinks to groups such as students and pensioners after a Dundee pub won a landmark case on the issue.

Licensing leaders in Edinburgh are to review their policy on discounts and promotional cards following the decision on the key "test case".

The Evening News revealed last month that investigations have been launched into 65 licensed premises in the city, with many of the cases relating to "price variations" - where a different price is charged for a specific drink to different groups, such as students, OAPs or club members.

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The licensing board has never passed a view on whether the promotions, which include the "Yellow Cards" offered to students in Scream-branded pubs, are breaking new licensing laws.

However, the city's licensing standards officers (LSOs) have been telling pubs that the promotions are unlawful and need to be stopped.

Patrick Browne, chief executive of the Scottish Beer And Pub Association, said: "The decision in relation to Dundee vindicates what we have been saying all along and that is that it is not unlawful to use discount cards.

"We do need to wait to see if there is an appeal but then I'd hope that the Edinburgh licensing board will take into consideration the decision in Dundee. There is now legal precedent, subject to a legal appeal, so I'd hope Edinburgh's LSOs will take this on board."

When asked whether he would advise member pubs to continue to offer discount cards, Mr Browne said: "Our advice is that discount cards are lawful but members should seek legal advice before doing any promotions."

In the Dundee case, Mitchells & Butlers - which is one of the biggest operators in Edinburgh - appealed a ban on its student discount cards at the Nether Inn. Sheriff Principal Robert Dunlop QC found in favour of Mitchells and stated that, although measures in the Licensing Act (Scotland) 2005 ruled drinks discounts must be in place for 72 hours, they did not outlaw different prices for different groups of people.

The LSOs and licensing leaders will now review the position to be taken in Edinburgh.

A spokesman for the city council said: "The decision does give clarity on issues where there have been different viewpoints.

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"The licensing board and the council's licensing standards section will study the sheriff's findings in detail and consider what implications they have for either current investigations or future decisions about licensing.

"But licencees still need to remember the act's requirements on irresponsible promotions when considering the use of discount cards."

Weather puts stop to events

THREE festive events in West Lothian have been cancelled due to adverse weather.

Tomorrow's Twilight Santa Parade at Watson Park in Armadale will no longer go ahead.

The Save for a Rainy Day event, which was due to take place at the Fauldhouse Partnership Centre tomorrow, has also been cancelled. It will now be held on January 7, from noon to 5pm.

The Broxburn Christmas Fair on Saturday has also been called off.