Orange Lodge event refused alcohol licence

Saturday April 29th 2023


Blair Hall in Tranent has been refused a drinks licence.

Written by Local Democracy Reporter, Marie Sharp

An Orange Lodge has been barred from serving alcohol at fundraising events, including one this weekend, amid claims it breached previous licence rules and ‘may not even exist’.

The two-day event at Blair Halls, Tranent, was due to be licensed under an application made on behalf of the Daughters of Israel LLOL 214.

However a meeting of East Lothian Licensing Board heard the application and another for an event in July on behalf of Tranent True Blues LOL 228 were both made by applicant Douglas Forsyth – who had already been granted 16 occasional licenses at the same venue in 12 months.

And the council’s Licensing Standards Officer (LSO) Karen Harling said that while Mr Forsyth had applied for the licences on behalf of four different organisations she was concerned they came under one ‘wider Orange Lodge’ organisation, in which case they had reached their annual limit.

Ms Harling also told the board that while events at the halls had been granted licences as fundraisers under specific voluntary organisation names, the tickets themselves said they were for No1 Platoon East Lothian.

She reminded board members it was a breach of licence not to advertise an event under the same name it was granted a licence for.

She said: ““All these occasional licences are for events at the same venue, the Blair Halls.

“It has been presented to the board that these events are fundraisers with live music and leads me to question if these events are fundraisers, where the funds are going and what is being done with these funds given the voluntary organisations applied for are not mentioned.”

The board was told attempts to contact Mr Forsyth by telephone and email and gather more information about the organisations, see a copy of a constitution, or get answers to questions had been met with no response.

Councillor Lachlan Bruce noted the two applications included a licence for an event happening this weekend at the Blair Halls but said he could not support them given the breach created by using a different name on the tickets.

He said: “I am not going to make a comment on whether they are the same organisation or not. I think it is quite serious that applications are being made under one name and then events advertised under another, that is clearly a breach.

“It is entirely possible there will be a reasonable answer to it if the applicant wants to come back and provide documents but we cannot assume there is.

“I am aware that one of them is this weekend so that then will obviously not be able to take place.”

Ms Harling told the board the venue had already been granted occasional licences for other events in April, May and June under delegated officers’ powers.

Mr Bruce urged the venue to consider applying for a premises licence given the number of events taking place there.

Fellow board member Councillor Neil Gilbert also agreed to refuse the applications saying: “I can’t see how we can, as a board, grant applications to an organisation that appears, on paper at the moment, not simply to exist.”

And Councillor George McGuire added: “The fact there has been no response from the applicant shows a disregard to the LSO and the board as a whole so I would not be minded to support this application.”

The board unanimously refused a licence for the event this weekend and another in July.

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