New rule call for adults drinking around youngsters

Wednesday November 14th 2018

Midlothian Draft Licensing Policy

Written by Local Democracy Reporter, Marie Sharp

Parents who drink alcohol while out for a meal with their children will be watched by restaurant and pub staff as part of a new series of licensing controls planned for Midlothian.

New rules call for licensed premises staff to monitor the amount adults drink around youngsters.

They also warn that licensees have a duty to protect children from “strong language, violence or disorder”.

The local authority’s draft licensing policy sets out a series of measures which aim to protect children and young people and crack down on underage drinking.

They include demanding licensed premises watch adults who are drinking paying special attention to “monitoring the consumption and level of intoxication from alcohol of those in charge of children whilst on the premises”.

Other measures proposed in the new policy include a ban on children and young people being allowed access to organised events, such as sporting events, where an alcohol licence is granted or “vertical drinking establishments”.

They will only be allowed into licensed premises where a meal is being eaten and they will have to stay at least one metre away from any bar in any licensed premises.

The local authority is also proposing to introduce conditions for licensed premises to give police at least two weeks notice of any 18th and 21st birthday parties being heldd.

In the draft policy, which will be put before the council this week for consideration it states: “The Board has serious concerns about the prevalence of under-age drinking in Midlothian and the links between excess consumption of alcohol and the commission of crimes, in particular crimes of public disorder and violence.

“Licence holders are reminded that they and their staff must comply with all legislation in relation to children and young persons and failure to do so will be treated extremely seriously by the Board”.

The new licensing policy highlights Dalkeith, Thornybank, Straiton and Loanhead as areas where there is an overprovision of licensed premises in the county making them less likely to approve additional off-sales or on-sales licences there in the future.

The draft policy said a recent study by Midlothian Licensing Forum found the rate of alcohol related harm in Dalkeith was twice as high as anywhere else in the county.

It added: “Neighbouring Loanhead also has a high rate for on and off sales and increasing rates of alcohol related harm, particularly in regards to alcohol related violence and anti-social behaviour and alcohol related death.”

It also flagged up other communities which it considers to be “areas of concern” in Penicuik Southeast, Bonnyrigg North, North Gorebridge, Gorebridge and Middleton.

It adds ”Newtongrange also presents concerns despite a low rate of licensed premises, with almost triple the rate of alcohol related deaths per 10,000 population compared to the Midlothian average.

“While there is insufficient evidence to determine the root cause of this harm and therefore no presumption against granting of a new premises licence or the increase of an existing premises licence, the licensing board will make due consideration to the likely impact of increasing alcohol provision within locality.”

The draft policy will be discussed at the Midlothian Licensing Board meeting on Thursday 15th November. To read the draft policy click HERE.

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