George Street office workers to be allowed self-service alcohol pumps after licensing approval

Plans for New Town office workers to have access to self-service alcohol pumps have been approved after councillors demanded supervision at all times.

Wednesday, 27th November 2019, 6:00 am
The six-storey office block on George Street has been granted an alcohol licence, Picture: Google

Proposals by We Work Community Workspace UK Limited for a licence for six storeys of offices above the Hollister clothes shop on George Street were put on hold after the Edinburgh Licensing Board raised fears – with the board convener saying it “raised alarm bells”. The proposals were paused while board members went on a fact-finding visit to the premises.

Under the proposals, the office block, with a capacity of 1,100, will allow workers to use self-serving alcohol dispensers on the sixth floor communal area, which includes a roof terrace.

Previously, Police Scotland raised concerns to the board over “insufficient staff being present” to supervise the sale of alcohol – while councillors and licensing staff also objected.

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David Hossack, representing We Work Community Workspace, confirmed that the self service alcohol will now be done “under supervision by a trained member of staff”.

The company has also put measures in place to enforce a four-drink maximum per person each day.

Coloured wristbands will be issued to workers who are old enough to drink and a part of the paper band will be removed each day for each drink they have.

Mr Hossack said: “It would be evident to the supervision to be able to check who has those and how many drinks they have got left.

“It’s recognised that you do have concerns here. A notice has to be placed near the point of service to say that there’s a limit in place.”

He added: “There will be a very limited range and volume of alcohol to those working in this building. This is not intended to be a bar, but it is intended to let those working in the building to have an occasional drink. It’s entirely safe with two sets of barriers.”

But Mr Hossack said that a technology solution to enforcing the four-drink minimum was not yet available.

He added: “We do not have this at this stage but it’s something they will continue to look at.”

Building standards officers confirmed that a maximum of 60 people will be allowed to access the sixth floor communal area, including the outside balcony area.

The George Street premises fall within one of the board’s areas of over-provision of alcohol. But the company pointed out their application was “one of the exceptional cases” where it can be demonstrated the proposals are “quite different to the George Street area”. In making its case, We Work Community Workspace highlighted the office blocks is not publicly accessible and “security is tight”.

Councillors thanked the company for their compromise over the self-service alcohol dispensers.

Cllr Gillian Gloyer said: “The site visit was very helpful and I’m pleased these new developments have taken place which have answered some of my questions.”

Board convener, Cllr Norman Work, added: “I think you have addressed an awful lot of the questions we have asked. I think you have addressed everything and the site visit was very helpful.

“I’m going to recommended we do approve what’s been accepted. We are very grateful you have addressed those issues.”

The board unanimously approved the licence.

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