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Board ‘at mercy’ of appeal over controversial Arbroath beer garden

The newly-fenced area to the pub's rear, which will contain the beer garden.
The newly-fenced area to the pub's rear, which will contain the beer garden.

Angus Licensing Board has admitted its hands are tied over a controversial pub scheme that objectors described as a “knife in the back”.

The Buick Social Club in Arbroath was refused consent for a beer garden at a board meeting in March.

Owner Brian Toner successfully appealed the decision on the grounds that board members “exercised their discretion in an unreasonable manner.”

The Lochlands Street application was brought back to a special board meeting, where convener Craig Fotheringham said he had “very serious concerns” about noise from the pub but admitted the decision was “at the mercy” of an appeal sheriff.

Four objectors spoke to members, including near neighbour Rogan Frith, whose family live in specially adapted Angus Council housing.

Mr Frith said: “My son has autism and muscular dystrophy…

“My son’s sleep pattern has basically been dictated to since Mr Toner opened the premises.”

Ian Grant said he and his wife bought their nearby home in 2014 before the former Legion premises reopened as a pub.

He said their four-year-old son is unable to sleep due to noise and “struggles” to get up for nursery.

Solicitor Anne McKeown said: “Of the objections, I would respectfully submit that these are directed to the premises in general, rather than the narrow point the board has to decide.

“My client has every sympathy with Mr Frith’s disabled son but again I don’t see that’s relevant to the application…

“Unfortunately, occupying property in close proximity to licensed premises, there may be a slight degree of disruption.

“The suggestion that Mr Toner is knifing a close-knit neighbourhood in the back, Mr Toner completely refutes that.”

Police Scotland confirmed that there were 21 calls to the premises from January to June this year and recorded excessive noise once.

Arbroath councillor Alex King put it to Mrs McKeown that there was a “substantial increase” in the number of customers since its previous incarnations as a Masonic hall and function rooms for the Royal British Legion Scotland.

Mr King said: “These premises ran for many years perfectly quietly under a club licence.

“Only when it became a public house that we suddenly have a major noise problem.

“I’m looking down the list of licensing objectives. I see securing public safety, preventing public nuisance, and protecting children from harm – all of which are being ignored by this application

“However the applicant made the choice of going to the sheriff, as usual somebody who doesn’t know a thing about the local situation is overruling the knowledge of local members.

“I’m very sad that a family who were given disabled accommodation by Angus Council are now having to consider moving out because their child cannot sleep.”

Mr Toner had agreed to install a two-door system into the beer garden to reduce noise coming from within the property, depending on building consent.

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