Student bar yards from high school hit with ban

The student accommodation block at Fountainbridge. Picture: Jon Savage
The student accommodation block at Fountainbridge. Picture: Jon Savage
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A STUDENT union bar will be banned from selling alcohol before 5pm amid fears earlier drinking hours would set a bad example to nearby high school pupils.

The sports bar in Fountainbridge – part of a 200-bed student complex – had applied to serve alcohol from 11am but the city’s licensing board imposed restrictions because of its proximity to the new Boroughmuir High School.

It comes as more than 100 objections were lodged against the drinks bid – a record level of opposition for a licensing application Edinburgh – with a flood of parents raising concerns that the bar would give pupils “an immediate and attractive source of alcohol” during school hours.

Bar owner Napier University was granted a seven-day-a-week drinks licence for the Bainfield Place union café bar serving alcohol from 5pm to 11pm on weekdays and 11am to 11pm at weekends.

The parent council at Boroughmuir said the decision had been a valid “compromise” after arguing the proposed glass-fronted bar would be “in full view of the whole west side of the school” and distract pupils who would also see smokers congregating outside the venue.

The university has also agreed to a condition that no pupils will be allowed access to the café bar at any time – for lunch times, snacks or during school breaks.

A spokesman for Boroughmuir parents said the concession was the result of the “dogged determination” of objectors.

“The school management team and parent council both feel that this is a reasonable outcome and one that should allow good neighbourly relations to develop between the school and Napier once we move to Fountainbridge in 2016,” he said.

Green councillor Gavin Corbett, who represents the ward, welcomed the decision and said positioning a student bar just yards from a high school was ill-conceived.

“Siting a student bar within ten yards of a new flagship school was never the wisest decision, but the change in licensing hours will ensure that overlap with school hours is minimised and the school community will feel their views have been listened to,” he 
said.

“For decades ahead, Napier University and Boroughmuir High School are going to be canalside neighbours, so it is important they get off to a good start.

“I’m pleased that a sensible compromise has been reached.”

A spokesman for Edinburgh Napier said representatives had met with the school’s headteacher to ensure a good relationship between the two institutions.

He said: “Being a good neighbour is as important to the university as providing the best possible facilities for our students, and so we were content to reach a compromise over the hours alcohol will be served at the café bar.”

kate.pickles@edinburghnews.com