East Lothian's 'smallest' gala hit by booze ban after council knocks back East Linton Gala's request

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East Lothian’s ‘smallest’ village gala has been barred from selling alcohol at the event despite people being able to buy booze from the local shop and drink it there on the day.

East Linton Gala had hoped to have a drinks tent at this summer’s gathering, which it said helped raise funds for the community. However, a meeting of East Lothian Licensing Board yesterday refused to grant them a licence after ruling the gala was a ‘predominantly children’s event’ and it would be against policy.

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The board meeting heard the gala, which is attended by around 400 local residents, described as the county’s ‘smallest’ one and that it is held in the village’s War Memorial Park.

East Linton Gala is held in the village park. Photo: Google Maps.East Linton Gala is held in the village park. Photo: Google Maps.
East Linton Gala is held in the village park. Photo: Google Maps. | LDR

Cat McMeeken, representing the gala committee, argued that the park was exempt from a county-wide public drinking ban on the day of the gala so people could bring their own booze to the event.

She said allowing the gala to run its own drinks tent discouraged people from buying alcohol elsewhere as they knew funds raised from the tent went to the community.

She told the board: “East Linton Gala has never had a situation where there has been anti-social behaviour. It is not an area where people will be buying drink from shops because it is cheaper, they will be going to the tent. It is predominately an affluent area.”

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Ms McMeeken questioned the board’s policy, which says events which are classed as predominately for children, should not necessarily need alcohol licenses and puts the onus on the applicants to justify why there should be drinks sold.

And she pointed to the decision earlier in the board meeting to approve a drinks licence for the Edinburgh Marathon, which she argued was also a family event.

She said: “It is interesting that this is a large scale event which will bring money into the area whereas East Linton Gala will not.”

However after a short adjournment the board returned to refuse the licence dismissing the argument that the gala was not a children’s event but for the entire community.

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Board chairperson Councillor Lachlan Bruce said the main reason for the drinks tent was to raise funds for the community, adding: “I do not think that is a good enough reason.” And he hit back at the suggestion the marathon and gala were similar.

He said: “The marathon is not predominately a children’s event, participants have to be over 18 , it is predominately about runners.”

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