Pubs hope punters will drink to referendum result

Amy says her regulars at the Golden Rule will want to toast result. Picture: Lesley Martin
Amy says her regulars at the Golden Rule will want to toast result. Picture: Lesley Martin
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PUBLICANS are hoping to pull pints until the small hours on the night of the Scottish ­independence referendum, with a string of bids to push back last orders to 6am.

Three city bars have moved to extend their on-sales licence by several hours on ­September 18 to cater for an expected wave of political anoraks ­wanting to watch poll updates through the night.

More are expected to now follow suit.

It is thought activists from both pro-union and Independence camps may also seek out watering holes to watch the drama unfold and toast their success or drown their sorrows when the more accurate vote projections are revealed in the early hours of Friday.

With results from the ­ballot expected to be announced at 7am, one Capital ­licensing chief said patrons could end up drinking “longer than is really good for them”.

Among those applying for late licences is the Golden Rule pub on Yeaman Place, ­Polwarth, and ­Carriers Quarters in ­Bernard Street, Leith – both run by the ­Shilling Group and aiming for 5am extensions.

Firm director Michael McGuigan said he wanted his pubs to be open for “one of the biggest nights in Scotland’s history.”

“From all the things I have read, it seems we’re going to get a very strong sense of what the outcome is going to be sometime between the hours of 1.30am and 3am,” he said. “Based on that, I think a lot of people are going to want to stay on at the pub and watch the results coming in.

“We’ll be making a bit of a celebration out of the fact that it’s a huge day in Scotland’s history.”

Golden Rule assistant ­manager Amy Grier said regulars would welcome toasting the ­referendum result, whatever it is. I think there will be a great atmosphere if we get the licence,” she said.

“It’s been a massive topic of conversation among our ­regulars for the past few months, and they’re quite an opinionated bunch.

“They’ll be quite keen for the chance to stay up and watch the results. We’ve had requests to put the debate on the ­televisions as well.”

Another hoping to attract political night owls is the ­Radical Road, in Duddingston, formerly known as the Radical Right in a nod to the footballing exploits of ex-owner Hibs winger Gordon Smith rather than political affiliation.

The Willowbrae Road bar has applied for a licence to serve drinks until 6am in ­anticipation of hundreds of Yes supporters gathering for what they hope will be a once-in-300-year celebration.

Pub landlord Martin ­Mitchell is pressing for a licence that would allow him to keep the pub open until around the time Scotland’s constitutional future is announced.

He said: “There’s no ­precedent for this, I believe.

“We’ve been told that there is absolutely no way that we’re getting a result before six o’clock in the morning so what’s the point having a three o’clock licence or even a five o’clock licence?

“In reality, what you’re doing to your customers is saying that at the end of that, ‘Away you go, you’re not knowing the result’”

With the eyes of the world on Scotland – and 600 foreign journalists based at Grassmarket’s Apex Hotel – surrounding pubs are expected to be thronged with reporters late into the night. None have yet applied for late licences.

Paul Waterson, a spokesman for the Scottish Licensed Trade Association, said the referendum was a unique opportunity for pubs and bars.

“It’s an important date, and a very important event,” he said. “Who knows when the result will be known, it could go on into the early morning.

“Whatever the result, one side of the argument will be partying by the end of the night or drowning their sorrows.”

City licensing vice-convener Cllr Gavin Barrie said he said watching the results through the bottom of a pint glass might be a niche pursuit. While I understand that people will want to do that, if you’re ­waiting for the result, it’s going to be a long night,” he said.

“If you are going to a pub, you’re going to be there a long time. That may be why some pubs are applying and others aren’t. It may be that people will be in licenced premises longer than is really good for them.

“The activists who will be working all day, by the time they get cleared up and can go to a bar, a later licence might suit them, but as far the count is concerned, that’s a different thing.”

But Cllr Barrie believes there is no prospect of passions spilling over into ­bar-room brawls. He said: “The small amount of animosity that there has been, compared to the amazing amount of people that have been involved, there is no way that will overshadow this historic campaign.”

It is understood Police Scotland have not yet objected to late licences.

Students lose their votes in registration blunder

STUDENTS have lost their say over Scotland’s future after an embarrassing “cock-up” meant they weren’t registered to vote in the referendum.

They expected to be added to the electoral roll after filling out forms at a stall run by the Scottish Youth Parliament at West Lothian College.

But the volunteer tasked with sending the documents to electoral chiefs fell ill and failed to deliver them in time for the September 2 cut-off.

The Lothian Joint Valuation Board said “it is now too late” for the 19 students hit by the blunder, which has cost an SYP worker their job.

Would-be Yes voter Kirsty Cosgrove, 28, said the independence campaign had inspired her to get involved in politics for the first time in her life.

She said: “I’ve never voted in my life, but I felt so strongly, so passionately, about this vote that I was actually determined to have my voice heard.

“This was my chance to help make the biggest decision in Scotland’s history – and it’s just been snatched away from me.”

Fellow student Lynsey Kiernan, 25, said the SYP team should have sent the forms away straight after the visit to the college last month.

Ms Kiernan – who also planned to vote Yes – said: “We filled out our forms on August 15, so I can’t figure out why they weren’t posted the next day. It just doesn’t make sense.

“I have a young daughter, and I wanted to vote in the referendum so that I could make sure she would have a better future.

“Because of this mix-up, 19 people have lost their right to vote.

“And because this referendum is going to be so tight, those could have been the votes that decided whether we become independent.”

Jennifer Hood, the volunteer with SYP who was tasked with making sure the forms reached the Lothian Joint Valuation Board, apologised in an e-mail to the students.

She wrote: “I was given the wrong deadline, and so this means that unfortunately you are not able to vote in this case. All I can do is apologise.

“I haven’t been very well either and have been unable to hand in the forms. I feel really bad that this has happened.”

A spokesman for SYP said that the volunteers manning the West Lothian stall had “been working outside of their remit” by collecting the registration forms in the absence of a “core staff member”.

He revealed that the person responsible for overseeing volunteers was no longer employed by the organisation.

He said: “We are very disappointed this isolated situation has taken place and we apologise to West Lothian College students affected.”

‘Remarkable’ man’s dreams for a Yes vote delivered from beyond the grave

A “REMARKABLE” man who died before he had a chance to cast his vote set out his dreams for the future in an article called “Our Scotland”.

Neil Robertson, 30, asked his carer to transcribe the moving piece – which describes a nation “based on respect and peace” – before he passed away in April from Duchenne muscular dystrophy.

He was diagnosed with the genetic disease, which gradually causes weakness and loss of muscle function, when he was three, but went on to live an independent life.

Neil gave support and hope to others with the life-limiting condition, where many do not live beyond their teens.

In a clear message of support for the Yes camp, Neil wrote: “My Scotland is one where there is full pay equality; a country where disabled people are seen as vital members of society; where sexual orientation doesn’t matter; where ethnic differences are valued; where everyone has a right to express an opinion and disagree; where hatred and violence are not accepted.

“As in all countries, the majority of people are decent, honest and hardworking. In the minority are people who can’t be bothered, avoid paying taxes, abuse drugs and alcohol and don’t appreciate our free education and health systems.

“Westminster, through the bedroom tax system, has shown that it doesn’t care about the disabled.”

Relatives said Neil refused to let his illness get in the way of living, despite being confined to a wheelchair from the age of eight. He went to Balerno High before going to Telford College where he earned qualifications in tourism and sports coaching and lived on his own in Lauriston.

Mum Lindsay recently found the notes amongst his possessions and wanted to share them as he tragically never had the chance to vote. She said: “A Yes vote was his dream. One of my first thoughts when he passed away was ‘it’s so sad he’s not going to see it’. He didn’t quite make it.

“Neil was very able and very politically aware. He was an active member of the SNP and I was encouraging him to try to become a councillor – use his voice when he couldn’t use his body.

“The ironic thing is that he didn’t live to see the results. He took quite ill suddenly and passed away quickly.”

She said Neil’s 31st birthday would have been on September 25 and he had hoped it would be a double celebration.

In the three-page essay, Neil writes about Scotland having deciding its future.

He signs off by writing: “Let us grab this chance of independence. No more thoughts of the fields of Bannockburn and Culloden. Like autumn leaves in the past they will remain.

“The leaves that appear in the spring will be Scotland’s brand new chance. Things won’t always be perfect. Sometimes it will be winter but we will have our summer one day.”