Mary Macrae, who is the firm’s licensing law specialist said: “Common sense prevailed.” in the Inverness Licensing Board decision to overturn the curfew for entry to Inverness nightclubs.
Mary presented the case for abolition on behalf of the Licensed Trade Association and some Inverness publicans. The midnight curfew for entry to clubs began only a couple of years before more demanding regulations came into force in 2005. These led to the increased use of qualified stewards and better regulation.
While police figures for the period show a decline in anti-social behaviour in recent years, there are also fewer people going to pubs and clubs with almost 70% of alcohol sales recorded from off-sales. Customers were having to leave pubs well before closing time to get into the clubs before the curfew which was an inconvenience to them and meant that Pubs were at a competitive disadvantage. The Licensed Trade Association and many publicans felt that needed to change and Mary was asked to represent them at the Inverness Licensing Board hearing on November 6.
Mary and the clients she represented listened to customers who wanted to choose where to go and when on a night out. Some had their nights ruined when only some of their group were admitted to a nightclub and others when they couldn’t get back in and were left on their own after leaving a club briefly only to find they were refused re-admission. Also, fewer pubs were putting on entertainment which their customers missed.
Mary said, “I have seen the consequences of the curfew for several years. There was no clear evidence that the curfew made a difference to the level anti-social behavior but there was evidence that pubs and their customers were put at a disadvantage and inconvenienced. Only 9 out of 32 licensing board areas have a curfew so it seems that most believe that curfews are unnecessary and that licensing objectives can be met by current legislation which demands effective regulation, good policing and a common sense approach.”
“With 22 out of 59 licensed premises in Inverness and the surrounding area closing in recent years it was time for them to have a level playing field with clubs again. I am delighted that the voice of reason prevailed.”