Edinburgh Accies angry at alcohol licence snub

Bruce Thompson, front, and other members of the Save Stockbridge campaign. Picture: Toby Williams

Bruce Thompson, front, and other members of the Save Stockbridge campaign. Picture: Toby Williams

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EDINBURGH Accies bosses have warned that refusing alcohol licences for a new stadium and restaurants at Scotland’s oldest rugby club will jeopardise their ability to boost grassroots sport.

The prediction came during a meeting of the city’s licensing board, at which members opted to order a visit to the site next to Stockbridge before deciding on the application.

Accies president Frank Spratt said failure to secure licences would not stop the development going ahead, but could hinder it from reaching its full potential 
as a public project aimed at 
enriching lives through sport.

He said: “All of the income generated will be put back into sport – to be a successful venue, as envisaged by VisitScotland, we need to be able to offer all of the facilities [in the plan] and that includes the liquor licence.

“Our proposals for the ground are not just for the club but for all organisations that want to use Raeburn Place.”

Yesterday’s licensing board meeting saw dozens of campaigners join political figures to attack the application.

If approved, proposals from Raeburn Place Foundation Ltd, which is leading the £8 million development, would allow customers to purchase drink until 1am – extended to 3am during the Festival and over Christmas and New Year. Objectors – who previously accused Accies of being “two-faced” in seeking to promote sport through the sale of alcohol – said the licences would have an adverse impact on the local area.

Sarah Boyack, Lothians list MSP for Labour, said: “It’s my strong view that the scale of what’s being proposed here, the timescales and the regularity of these timescales are completely inappropriate for an area that’s surrounded by residential properties.”

Campaigner Nick Evans, 64, who lives next to the development site, said the application was still “too early to call”.

He said: “I think we are concerned that the board do not take account of the historical issues and issues around the justification that [the developers] need a licence to fund rugby for children.

“We are very pleased that our overall position was heard and that we got across the message that the site is in a residential area.

“We are very much looking forward to having a discussion with the applicant over what might be a better solution.”

Licensing board members 
also indicated they were hopeful a compromise on the plan could be reached.

Councillor Cammy Day, who sits on the board, said: “I think the issue here is having up to 6000 patrons in a fairly dense residential part of the city and I hope we can come to some sort of compromise between what they are asking for and what they might get.

“We need to accept [Accies] have to explore all opportunities to bring in money but that cannot be to the detriment of the local community.”

johnpaul.holden@edinburghnews.com