It’s no fun after one says court

Images club'Wellgate'Lanark'28/2/12
Images club'Wellgate'Lanark'28/2/12
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A LEGAL bid to break Clydesdale’s 1am pub closing time `barrier’ has failed.

An important ruling by Lanark Sheriff Court means that drinking and dancing in our area’s nightspots will contuinue to end two hours earlier than in other parts of South Lanarkshire.

Late last year the Gazette reported how the Lanark nightclub Images had lodged an appeal against a February 2012 decision by South Lanarkshire’s Clydesdale Area Licensing Board to refuse it a 3am opening permit.

One of the arguments made was that it was basically unfair that at least one nightclub elsewhere in South Lanarkshire - in Hamilton - was allowed 3am opening while similar businesses in Lanark and the rest of Clydesdale were tied to a 1am closing time policy by our local licensing board.

The Images management has repeatedly complained that this is unfair competition and points as proof of this to the fact that weekend late night coaches are run from Clydesdale into Hamilton and back, carrying local revellers who could be spending their money here instead,

In November of last year a lengthy appeal against the Clydesdale Board’s decision was heard at Lanark Sheriff Court and the Gazette has now learned that Images failed in its bid to have the 1am barrier breached for the first time.

It could also be a very expensive defeat as the costs of the action, which South Lanarkshire Licensing Board employed one of Scotkland’s top QCs to defend, are to be met by Images.

In a lengthy judgement, Sheriff Nikola Stewart concludes that the Clydesdale Area Licensing Board acted both lawfully and fairly when it threw out the 3am opening application.

In short, she says that, when it came to judging whether or not Images should or should not get such late opening hours, the local knowledge of the board members - all local councillors - had to be respected.

She agreed with the board that - all policies and legal niceities apart - the street in which Images is located, Lanark’s Wellgate, was simply too narrow and too densely populated for 3am opening not to cause undue disturbance to the folk living there,

She dismissed Images’ arguments that, as there was already 1am opening allowed, an extension to 3am would make little if any difference, that it had taken steps to quell any late night noise and that, as no residents had formally objected to the application, it should be allowed.

She said that she felt the time allowed for objections to be lodged had been too short.

And she added: “The Board members are entitled to bring their expertise and local knowledge to bear in assessing problems such as those associated with the impact of the proposed extended hours opening in the topography and demography of this specific location and have specified the factors which bear materially upon their decision.

“They did so in determining that there would still be a certain amount of noise after closing time which could cause disturbance to neighbouring residents,

“This is a location with which the parties are utterly familiar. There is no dispute as to its characteristics.

“The background knowledge brought to bear is clearly expressed and identified and constitutes, in my view, adequate reason for refusal.”

Refusing the appeal, she awarded costs to the Licensing Board.