Applications to allow the Harbour Fish and Chip Shop and Tatties and Point to stay open until 4am have been refused by the Shetland Islands Council licensing committee today.
Owners of the fish and chip shop in Harrison Square wanted to extend their opening from 3am at weekends and other specified times.
This would mean having a licence from 11pm to 4am on Fridays and Saturdays, on 2nd January and on the Hop night of Lerwick Up-Helly-A’.
The application was made after a decision to push back the closing time of nightclubs to from 2am to 3am. The licensing committee had discussed the proposal in April and recommended refusal, but deferred a decision until the full council had reviewed licensing policy.
When the licensing committee met again today members heard police objected to the proposal with the force voicing concerns about anti-social behaviour and disorder. A report from Shetland chief inspector Eddie Graham was discussed at the meeting.
In it, he said between 2am and 3am was “the most resource intensive period”.
“It is a known fact that late night catering establishments are a congregational point for late night revellers and that there has been some recorded anti-social behaviour by customers in and around the premises.”
He said in the interest of public safety, the police had to have a presence until the premises are closed.
If it stayed open until 4am, he said: “The net effect on the policing of Shetland as a whole during this ‘golden hour’ will be to significantly reduce the service to the wider community whilst crowds around catering establishments are marshalled by the police to prevent disorder.”
Mr Graham said it was accepted the Harbour Fish and Chip Shop was seeking to maximise its profit by catering for those leaving nightclubs and there was less disorder associated with the shop than other late night catering establishments.
“However, the fact remains that if solely granted there may not be parity with other premises. This would result in a significant trading advantage with the likelihood of the crowd then congregating outside this premises and thus requiring a continued police presence.”
If the committee supported the application, police requested a condition that door staff were required.
Environmental health objected on the grounds that the extended hours would breach a 2005 agreement that allowed 3am weekend opening.
Owner Yasmin Rasul made her case to members saying, “it’s the alcohol causing the problems not the food establishments.”
She raised a number of points, warning folk could set their house on fire if they tried to cook at home after going out drinking.
People going home without food “is not a good idea”, she said and talked about the situation of folk driving the next day with high levels of alcohol in their body.
Mrs Rasul also had a petition signed by 200 customers supporting the bid to stay open later. Even staying open until 3.30am would be acceptable, she said.
Members heard how the police force is down by eight officers.
Councillor Allison Duncan highlighted the hard work to crack down in town centre violence in Mr Graham’s report and in light of the police objection, moved to support the police and refuse the application.
The refusal was seconded by council convener Malcolm Bell, who said he was not making the decision on police numbers, rather it was a decision based on public order and public safety.
Both Mr Bell and Mr Duncan said Mrs Rasul ran “a good business” and Mr Bell said it was with “ a heavy heart” that he backed the refusal.
Police objections were raised again to the Tatties and Point application – to extend opening hours on Friday and Saturday from 3am to 4am.
A report from Mr Graham was presented to members, raising the same concerns over the net effect on policing if the extension was granted.
Mr Graham’s report also referred to a trend for youngsters to attend the shop early in the morning and join “ a heavily intoxicated crowd”.
This, has led to a number of assaults on juveniles at 3am, it added.
The committee was told there had been seven early-hours assaults in and around the shop in the last 12 months.
There was also an objection by the council’s environmental health on the same grounds as the Harbour Fish and Chip Shop application.
Mr Duncan moved to refuse the proposal, this was again seconded by Mr Bell.
Alastair Cooper voiced concerns about tackling the problem of disturbances and said the issue of food outlets, nightclubs and crowds should be kept under review.
Chairman George Smith said it could be revisited.
Afterwards Mr Cooper said there had been issues with crowd control in the past, and the fire service was keen for people to eat food before they went home, rather than attempt to cook.
He said he thought it was sensible that folk try to eat something, but thought folk would be rushing to get something to eat before 3am and the situation needed be kept under review.