Warning issued to drinks licensees

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The licensing board has reminded publicans and others licensed to sell alcohol of their responsibilities after several licencees failed to turn up to a board hearing today to consider late payment of licences.

Board members heard that four licensees out of 140 in Shetland had been late with their annual payments, though three of those had made good belatedly.

However, several members spoke of their “disappointment” that two of the licensees had not turned up to the meeting. The board resolved to make their expectation of attendance known in future communications.

The board heard that the finance manager of the Petrofac accommodation at Sella Ness had been sacked following the failure to pay the £900 licence fee on time.

Petrofac health and safety manager Alan Burke told the board that the delay had occurred in part because the letter had not been addressed to Compass Group, which owns the licensed premises. The premises manager was also off on long-term sick leave.

The board congratulated Mr Burke for attending but decided to send out a warning letter in view of the late payment.

It was also to send similar warnings to Alex Morrison’s grocer shop in Lerwick and the Pierhead Restaurant at Voe after both made late payment. Alec Morrison’s had changed hands with new owner Jordan Webb in attendance at the review hearing.

However, no-one turned up from the Pierhead Inn or the North Bridge Stores, which were both also late with payment.

Board member councillor Amanda Hawick was particularly annoyed that the Cunningsburgh store, which had since closed, had not even replied to reminders from the licensing board.

She said: “How disappointed I am to see the poor response from the owners for: a) failing to inform us that they intended to cease trading; and b) it’s not viewed as good form that the licence holder from the premises was not here today, and I move to revoke the licence.”

Councillor Allison Duncan seconded revoking the licence of the store which, it heard, had not been trading since February.

Board chairman George Smith said he was also “disappointed” no-one was there to represent the business and that the holders were in breach of their conditions and that the board was justified in revoking the licence.

In the case of the Pierhead Restaurant, the board hear that there had been a business break-up between the manager and the license holder and the licence had gone unpaid for the first time. Since then the manager had paid the debt.

Ms Hawick said: “Once again I am disappointed to see the premises holder is not here to give us an explanation. It is reassuring that they have decided to pay the fee.”

Chief Inspector Angus MacInnes encouraged every licence holder to “make sure their business was run appropriately”.

About Peter Johnson

Reporter for The Shetland Times. I have also worked as an employed and freelance reporter and editor for a variety of print and broadcast media outlets and as as a freelance photographer and film maker/cameraman. In addition to journalism, I have experience in construction, oil analysis, aquaculture, fisheries, the health service and oral history.

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