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Pub Curfew Review

Posted on Wednesday, 13 June 2012 07:49AM by Judy and the Peak District Online Team
INVERNESS’S heavily criticised midnight curfew is to be scrutinised again after Highland licensing chiefs agreed to review the controversial policy.

But there will be no quick decision on the rule as the consultation process is not expected to be completed until the autumn.

A campaign to scrap the restriction, which stops customers entering late-night venues in the Highland Capital after midnight, ended in failure last year.

Inverness is the only city in the UK to have the curfew and more than 2,000 people signed an internet petition in 2011 seeking its removal.

The Highland Licensing Board rejected the calls after Northern Constabulary insisted the curfew helped it reduce public nuisance and noise by keeping revellers corralled together.

But the new board, which met in the city on Tuesday following the Highland Council elections in May, has agreed to review the curfew, which was first introduced in 2003, after newly elected city SNP councillors Richard Laird and Allan Duffy asked for it to be included on the agenda.

Board clerk Alaisdair Mackenzie said the previous review in 2010 had been prompted by the e-petition.

"The vast majority of city centre premises in Inverness were in favour of the curfew," he said.

"It is up to the board to consider whether they wish to review this policy."

Inverness Central Councillor Laird said it was an opportune moment to review the policy because other towns in the Highlands like Thurso and Wick did not have it. Councillor Duffy (Inverness West) agreed and was told the review would be completed by October.

Opponents of the curfew claim it is outdated, confusing for visitors and harms Inverness’s reputation.

Smaller pubs and bars claim their trade is hit because patrons leave early to make sure they can get into venues by the allotted hour.

The board’s website page on the Highland Council site is expected to be used for the consultation and organisations like the police, NHS Highland, Inverness Pubwatch and Highland Licensing Forum will be invited to make their views known.

The idea behind the curfew was to provide a "watershed" in the city’s late night economy and allow the dispersal of customers leaving pubs and restaurants which closed at 1am – before the exodus of patrons from nightclubs at 3am.

It was designed to reduce pressure on police resources and taxis and public transport.

Meanwhile, the Highland Licensing Committee has also agreed to review its late hours catering rules after city centre takeaway Max 2 sought an extension.

Tanveer Siddique of the Lombard Street business asked for permission to sell food until 3am on Wednesday and Sunday nights, like it does between Thursday and Saturday evenings.

Lorna Murray, solicitor for the takeaway, said it did not make sense to allow people to drink until 3am but not buy food.

Ms Murray said there had been no objections from the police and claimed there were increased safety risks, particularly domestic fires, from hungry revellers attempting to cook once they got home from a night out.

The committee deferred a decision until it reviewed the current policy for late hours catering opening.

Highland News