Pubs' early Sunday opening bid downed

PUBS in the Capital have lost a bid to open on Sunday mornings amid concern about noise and alcohol abuse.

The Evening News revealed earlier this month that dozens of bars wanted to open before noon on Sundays, with some looking to serve alcohol as early as 8am.

But the city's licensing board has opted against the proposals, following a consultation with the trade, as well as residents. The move has angered pub owners, who say it is unfair that they cannot open before 12:30pm when off-licences and supermarkets are now free to sell alcohol from 10am on Sundays.

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Councillor Marjorie Thomas, the city's licensing leader, said: "The board has discussed this at great length and we are unanimous in this view. We have taken the views of the licensing forum and the board found that we need to give the community some breathing space.

"There is also the whole issue of public health and alcohol. To increase licensing hours at this time is not acceptable."

Pubs around Tynecastle, Easter Road and Murrayfield were among those which wanted the option of earlier opening on a Sunday as many matches now start as early as midday.

Cllr Thomas said that any applications for extensions to Sunday opening would only be considered in "exceptional circumstances".

But when asked what such a circumstance could be, she said it would include Edinburgh's two teams meeting in a cup final. She confirmed league matches would not be enough.

Graham Blaikie, landlord at the Mercat Bar on West Maitland Street, failed in a bid to get a one-off extension to his hours for the Scotland-Wales Six Nations match in February, which kicked off at 3pm.

He said: "On that rugby day I had the worst takings ever for a rugby game. If they keep the status quo, you can walk two doors down to an off-licence from 10am."

Patrick Browne, chief executive of the Scottish Beer And Pub Association, said: "Pub owners will be very disappointed. It is about a level playing field."

Bar closed for a month over licence breach

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A CITY centre pub has been shut down for a month after breaching its licence.

The Spider's Web on Morrison Street had agreed to close from 11am-noon daily so it would not breach licensing laws restricting bars to 16 hours of trade.

But people were twice caught drinking between 11:15am and noon by police licensing officers, on February 24 and March 4. Now its license has been suspended until May 27.

The bar had agreed to close for one hour so it would still be able to open at 6am and close at 11pm, despite the new rules allowing it only a maximum of 16 hours' trade.

Representatives of licensee Peter Cruickshanks admitted the errors but said that on February 24 staff had just been slow to clear the bar of customers, with no alcohol being sold after 10:50am. And the March 4 incident related to two friends who help with banking being given a pint of beer each. Licensing leader Marjorie Thomas said: "If people don't abide by the rules we take action."