Gyle ditches plans to offer free booze prize to students

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ONE of Edinburgh’s biggest shopping centres has pulled a controversial drink promotion which would have offered a student free drink for a year.

The Gyle shopping centre withdrew its promise of a year’s worth of free alcohol after facing fierce criticism.

The promotion had been arranged as part of its “Student Day” later this month, with the centre hoping to attract hundreds of students by offering a range of prizes.

One of those included 365 individual alcoholic drinks – or as the poster stated: “One drink for each day of the year.”

Offering a prize of alcohol, or encouraging irresponsible drinking, is against licensing regulations in Edinburgh, however, and so the award had to be withdrawn.

Andrew Cronie, Gyle Centre manager, said bosses were happy to remove the prize, which would have been decided by pulling a name from a hat on a free raffle basis.

Other prizes that remain include holidays, concert tickets and gift cards.

Mr Cronie said: “We are very grateful that this problem has been drawn to our attention well ahead of our Student Day on September 22. We have withdrawn this offer with immediate effect, and we are offering a £300 Gyle Shopping Centre Gift Card in its place.

“Gyle Shopping Centre takes pride in its role as a friendly, family-based shopping experience, with something for everyone. We would never intentionally propose anything that compromise our values as a responsible retailer.”

It is unlikely the shopping centre will face any action now that the prize has been removed. And there has been some sympathy for bosses who may have found some licensing regulations confusing.

Tory councillor Alastair Paisley, who sits on Edinburgh’s licensing board, said: “It’s sometimes difficult to know if giving away free alcohol is against the regulations.

“For instance, many political parties give away bottles of whisky as prizes in a raffle.

“But this was a poor promotion and I’m glad it has been removed.”

Several businesses have fallen foul of the council’s alcohol regulations, designed to stop bars making it too easy for people to binge drink.

In August last year gay nightclub GHQ in Picardy Place had its wrists slapped for offering medals to revellers who participated in a seven-hour drinking marathon.

And Doctors bar in Forrest Road recently dropped its promotions after learning it was under investigation.

Patrick Browne, chief executive of the Scottish Beer and Pub Association, said the deal had raised moral questions.

He said: “The question is was this a responsible promotion, and for a company like the Gyle Centre I would have said no.”

amorris@edinburghnews.com

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