In November 2018, in a bid to safeguard health and public safety, the Edinburgh Licensing Board rolled out a series of areas of over-provision of alcohol for sale across large swathes of the city. The policy means that companies will have to make their case for providing more alcohol in those zones more rigidly – with the board creating a “rebuttle presumption against the grant” of new licences.
But the deputy leader of Edinburgh City Council, who also sits on the licensing board, has blasted the decision to allow Sainsbury’s on Shandwick Place to utilise an additional 30 metres of shelf space to display alcohol.
Cllr Cammy Day called on the board to “take responsibility” and turn down the request.
Kevin Clancy, representing Sainsbury’s, told councillors that five aisles at the back of the store, which currently contain cards, DVDs and confectionery, would be used to display additional alcoholic products, if formally approved by the board.
He pointed to the closure of the nearby Scotmid store and said that Frasers closing its doors in the West End meant locals have less choice from where to buy alcohol. The Frasers building is set to be taken over by distilling giant Diageo for its new multi-million pound Johnnie Walker “visitor experience” centre. He added: “Customers would like to see a much wider range of choice.
“At present, there’s no ability to expand the range. This is not an attempt to change the character of the store. 80 per cent of the sales are food only sales. It is simply to adjust to customer feedback.”
Cllr Day said: “You said 80 per cent of sales is food. Surely you would like to expand the food offering, rather than turning it into an off-licence.
“We have just extended our over-provision policy. If we are going to take responsibility for the health of our citizens, we need to take a stance. There’s no shortage of supply of alcohol in this area. There’s ample supply of alcohol.”
Cllr Nick Cook, who formally proposed for the application to be accepted at the meeting, said: “I don’t think granting this will infringe on our policy or licensing objectives.”