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Motoring news

Audi’s new Q cars

April 12 2017

Another week, another new Audi. Two new Audis, in fact. The German car maker has announced a couple more additions to its Q line up of SUVs. The Q4 is a coupe-SUV hybrid that will go up against the BMW X4 and Mercedes GLC Coupe. As its name suggests, it’ll be positioned between the compact Q3 and bigger Q5. At the other end of the scale is the Q8, which will go head to head against the Range Rover. It’s lower and sleeker than the Q7 Audi is also producing. In concept form, it sat only four people, although it seems likely the production version will be a five seater. There’s a 630 litre boot as well. Eagle eyed Audi followers will notice the only SUV slots left to fill are the Q1 and Q6. Watch this space...

Angus & The Mearns

Sheriff orders licensing board to perform suspension U-turn

August 27 2012

Licensing board members have been left red-faced after being told they ''erred in law'' when suspending an Angus publican's licence to sell alcohol. Karen Kennedy, who runs the Osnaburg Bar in Forfar, had her licence suspended for six months by the licensing board after she was convicted of drink-driving in February. The board ordered the suspension to ''send out a message'' to other licence holders but the decision has been overturned at appeal, after a senior lawyer showed its case was flawed. Ms Kennedy had been banned from driving for three years at Forfar Sheriff Court after driving into a parked car outside the pub on January 26 at around 2.10am. However, Forfar lawyer Brian Bell appealed the suspension on Ms Kennedy's behalf and showed the conviction did not impact on her duties as a licence holder. The sheriff judging the appeal found the board had ''exercised their discretion in an unreasonable manner''. The subject of Ms Kennedy's licence to sell alcohol came before the board after she told the council about her conviction. On the night in question, Ms Kennedy said she cleaned some equipment after the bar closed before having two or three large measures of wine from her own alcohol not from bar stock. She maintained she had not imbibed alcohol during licensing hours and the bar had a tight policy on this. Options available to the board's committee included revoking her licence, suspending it for up to six months, or endorsing it. In a letter to the board, Tayside Police's Chief Constable recommended the licence should be revoked under the Licensing (Scotland) 2005 Act. It states licence holders are under obligation to prevent crime and disorder, secure public safety, prevent a public nuisance, protect and improve public health, and protect children from harm. Councillor Alex King gave evidence at the hearing and reported Ms Kennedy had one previous analogous driving conviction and said alcohol had been consumed on the premises. Under cross-examination, he accepted the driving was after the bar closed and he had assumed Ms Kennedy was in charge of the licence. He agreed there was no suggestion Ms Kennedy drank on the premises during licence hours. Despite this, Mr King said he considered the chief constable's report relevant and Ms Kennedy's conduct had to be ''marked''. Mr Bell, with reference to the Licensing Act (Scotland) 2005 and previous case law, argued Ms Kennedy's actions had no impact in law on her duties or responsibilities as a licence holder. He stated: ''The traffic offence committed some two hours after the licensed premises had closed to the public, which was in no way connected to her status as a personal licence holder, did not merit any additional penalty being imposed.'' Within the narration there was no reference to the offence impinging upon the appellant's capabilities as the licence holder, under the 2005 Act. He added: ''It seems to me that the only way Ms Kennedy's duties as a personal licence holder are mentioned is the reference to her being seen leaving the premises in the early morning.'' Sheriff Kevin Veal concluded the offence had no relation to the licensee's role, saying: ''In this circumstance I have concluded that the respondents have erred in law. I'm of the opinion that the members exercised their discretion in an unreasonable manner after being made aware of the not insignificant penalty earlier imposed on the appellant by the criminal court.'' A council spokeswoman said: ''We are aware of the decision and it will be reported to a future meeting of Angus Licensing Board.'' The pub in question remained open throughout the appeal process. Ms Kennedy declined to comment.

Angus & The Mearns

‘We’ve been more than fair’ councils warn alcohol sales licences are now at risk

December 4 2014

Pub and shop owners who failed to comply with alcohol legislation have been warned to expect a dry Christmas under newly-enforced laws. Thousands of hospitality and retail jobs hang in the balance as a legal deadline for personal licence training has passed. Councils are scrambling to contact as many “stragglers” as possible before they send out letters banning the sale of alcohol. Experts have warned unlicensed managers could lose their jobs while other workers’ posts would also be at risk. It is understood as many as 2,000 licence holders have missed the deadline across Fife, Dundee, Angus, and Perthshire and Kinross. In a “patchwork” of local authority responses to this, Fife Council has given 766 licensees until Friday to return completed training. Businesses are otherwise advised to write in with details of a new manager, which would take six weeks to grant keeping businesses open over the festive period. However, each council has its own methods of dealing with latecomers. In Angus, the council has issued three reminders to 215 licence holders since March this year, and is “reviewing” information before contacting them again, while Perth and Kinross awaits 480 licensees. Jack Cummins, a licensing lawyer for major trade operators, said the situation is “pretty bad” in Dundee. Mr Cummins said: “A minority of boards are giving a slight extension although they’re not supposed to. Some have revoked licences some are about to. With Christmas coming up, it just makes it a little more anxious. “There are thousands of people across Scotland who have been told they cannot sell alcohol any more they’ve discovered they are in the mire. The last we checked in Dundee, the position is pretty bad.” Chairman of Fife’s licensing board, Councillor Bob Young, said “the last thing” the council wants is to close premises before Christmas. “What we’re doing just now is going through the list to see who’s got a pub and hasn’t renewed,” he said. “We’re writing out to them to put an application in front of us, and then they’ve got six weeks to get the matter cleared up. “That will take them past the festive period we’ve been more than fair.” Councillor Alex King, of Angus licensing board, said: “It’s part of the law and if licence holders are not complying they are taking one enormous risk.” The Courier revealed in April that fewer than 2,000 of Scotland’s 30,000-plus licence holders had complied.

Angus & The Mearns

Albert Bar in Montrose forced to shut until noise problem is addressed

July 1 2011

An Angus pub has had its licence suspended following a long-running battle with the council over noise complaints. The Albert Bar in Market Street, Montrose, won't be able to trade again until it installs a noise-limiting device inside the venue. The board has received a number of noise complaints from residents and had asked Angus Council officers to work with the Albert Bar and residents in an effort to resolve issues. A noise management plan was agreed and the licensee, the Firm of the Albert Bar, was to install a noise-limiting device which was to be operated to the satisfaction of officers. Typically, this means attaching a device to the power supply of the amplification system. It has a microphone through which it constantly measures the level of noise inside the venue. If the noise exceeds a pre-set volume level the device will cut off the power supply to the amplification system and will not allow the supply of power until it is reset. Councillor John Whyte, chairman of the licensing board, said, "Despite reminders and extensive support from council officers, the licensee failed to install the noise limiter and noise complaints continued. "At today's board, the members felt that they were left with no option but to suspend the licence until the device is installed and fully operational to the satisfaction of environmental and consumer protection and the council's licensing standards officer. "The premises must close forthwith and remain closed until the noise limiter has been satisfactorily installed. "The board was extremely disappointed to note that repeated warnings had gone unheeded and indicated that it will not hesitate to take firm action, which can include the suspension or revocation of licences, when warnings are disregarded." At the licensing board meeting on August 18 last year the board was informed by Stewart Ball, senior service manager of the economic development and environmental and consumer protection division, that five complaints had been received regarding noise-related issues. Last month the board was asked to note that a proposed form of noise reduction plan was agreed, which stated that a noise-limiting device was to be installed and ready for use within two months from the date of acceptance of the noise reduction plan. The two-month period expired on May 21 without any notification being received by the licensing standards officer (LSO) or the environmental and consumer protection division. A letter was sent by the LSO to the premises' licence holders on May 26 reminding them of the requirement for action. The LSO visited the premises on May 31 and was informed no noise-limiting device had been fitted but this work was to be completed by June 3. The premises were visited again by the LSO on June 6 and the device had not been installed.

Angus & The Mearns

U-turn over controversial South Esk salmon fishing extension

February 5 2013

A controversial Scottish Government decision to extend salmon netting in the South Esk area has been reversed. However Scotland’s largest salmon netting company, which has been at the centre of the issue, said it has “no issues” and “fully accepts” the U-turn. In August, ministers granted Usan Salmon Fisheries Ltd a three-year licence to net salmon at its coastal stations south of Montrose for two weeks in September. This has now been revoked. One of the firm’s directors, George Pullar, told The Courier: “We fully accept the decision of the Scottish Government to revoke the licence on the basis that the research was no longer required as part of the South Esk Project. “We understood that the nature of the licence was that it could be revoked at any time and, therefore, have no issues with the decision.” The extension was to compensate the fishery for disruption caused by Marine Scotland Science’s access “to fish and genetic samples during the commercial fishery season” for tagging research. As the netting season ends on August 31 the government’s decision came in for criticism from anglers and from some conservation bodies. The Esk District Salmon Fisheries Board sought a judicial review of the decision to grant the licence, due to be heard this month. Former board chairman Hughie Campbell Adamson was head of the body when the review was sought. He said: “The Scottish Government’s capitulation, together with its undertaking to pay the board’s costs, vindicates entirely the EDSFB’s decision to go for judicial review. “I hope that we can all now move on and never again allow politics and prejudice to jeopardise wild salmon conservation. “The latter must take priority whether it is in the context of salmon netting on the east coast or the unsustainable increase in salmon farming on the west coast. “I would especially like to thank the Salmon and Trout Association (Scotland) and the Dee District Salmon Fishery Board for their invaluable support.” The River South Esk is a Special Area of Conservation for Atlantic salmon. Conservationists argue the district’s netting operations are closely linked to salmon numbers, not only in the South and North Esks but also in the Tay. Esk Rivers and Fisheries Trust chairman Tom Sampson said: “The Government’s reversal of its decision is indeed welcome. “No increased exploitation of salmon, in the context of today’s limited marine survival levels, can be justified.”


Dundee’s pub and club owners angry at licensing board no-show

July 4 2013

Amid dire warnings over the future of Dundee’s night-time economy, the city’s licensing board members have been slammed for failing to attend a meeting with pub and club owners. Prominent businessman Jimmy Marr, who owns several pubs and Deja Vu nightclub in the city, says members of Dundee’s Licensed Trade Association were “astounded” there was no representation from the board councillors, police or even licensing standards officers at the session. Mr Marr said: “The only person there from the council was legal officer Brian Woodcock. But he was only there to take down our points, not answer any questions. “Why didn’t the members of the licensing board come and have a meeting with us? They put out a letter to the licensed trade and we held a consultation meeting but none of them bothered to turn up.” In the letter to the association, Mr Woodcock outlined the board’s proposal for a new three-tier system of late-night licensing in Dundee, which would see dedicated nightclubs being able to open until 4am. Fat Sam’s has previously applied for a 4am licence specifically to compete with the G Casino’s 6am licence. However, a decision on that application has been deferred twice by the board pending the consultation, which the club says has since led to redundancies at what is Scotland’s biggest nightspot. Mr Marr says the real problem lies with too many pubs being granted a 2.30am licence alongside the casino’s licence and free-entry door policy. He said: “They’re now suggesting ordinary pubs to open till midnight, pubs with entertainment can open till 2.30am and dedicated nightclubs can open till 4am. “The licensed trade don’t want that. It was pretty unanimous among the 25-30 members in the meeting that we would all prefer it if pubs were open until midnight and nightclubs until 2.30am. “That’s the way it was before and it worked well. The problem is the casino having a 6am licence and no minimum entry charge. “By not turning up to our meeting, we just feel that the board will just make their decision in August, no matter what the consultation says.” Councillor David Bowes, who sits on the council’s licensing committee, said members of the board were unable to take part in the consultation process as it would prevent them making a decision once it came before the board meeting in August. “The consultation is for the trade and we don’t get involved in that as we are the ones who have to make a decision on the outcome of the process,” he said. “Once the consultation is complete we get the report back and make a decision based on all aspects of the process.”

Angus & The Mearns

Forfar Legion gets ‘smack on wrists’ over licence breach

March 14 2013

The Royal British Legion in Forfar has escaped with a “smack on the wrist” following a breach of licensing laws. Town branch chairman Charlie Brown appeared at a special meeting of Angus Council’s licensing board this week to face questions surrounding the serving of alcohol to non-members at a funeral party at the Academy Street clubrooms in January. The club’s rules state only members of the Legion and persons signed into the club by a family member who is part of the Legion are allowed to buy and consume alcohol on its premises. However, Mr Brown explained an application for an occasional licence, the type of which is needed to serve drink to non-members, takes a minimum of seven days to be approved and the nature of a funeral gathering does not allow for such notice to be given. He also told the board a member of staff at the Legion had applied to take a bar manager training course to obtain a public licence three times but had been cancelled on each occasion. Mr Brown said: “I accept we have operated outside what our licence allowed us to do and we take cognisance of the fact there are other licensees in the town objecting to it.” Board chairman Alex King said he hoped the Legion would take the incident as a warning and obtain the appropriate licence. “Quite clearly the trade are beginning to feel the pinch,” said Mr King. “In the past they were prepared to tolerate it, but now there are licensees who are no longer prepared to do that. Take this as a smack on the wrists and proceed accordingly.”


Karaoke sessions could threaten city centre pub

October 28 2016

A popular city centre pub could face losing its entertainment license after complaints over "loud" karaoke sessions. The Town House pub, situated in King Street, has had several noise complaints made against it over the past year by an unhappy nearby resident. Dundee City Council's Licensing Board met on Thursday morning to review the bar's entertainment licence. The board deferred judgement until January, so the bar's licence holder, Ms Fairfield, could price the cost of additional noise reducing equipment. A number of noise complaints were made after a resident in a flat above the bar said music from the pub could be heard in the property. On two separate occasions police were called out, but an officer from Police Scotland told the Licensing Board on both occasions the noise from the bar "was not deemed excessive". Environmental Health Officers from the council visited the pub and the property on several occasions. Officers informed the Licensing Board they could hear music in the complainer's flat coming from the pub. The Town House's customers are over mostly over the age 60, according to the bar, and do not "cause a disturbance". The pub's owners told the Licensing Board they have fitted a limiter to the karaoke machine, in efforts to keep any noise to a low level. A representative for Ms Fairfield told the Licencing Board if the pub loses its entertainment license and is unable to provide a karaoke session for its regular customers, then it would be threatened by closure. He also explained the pub had not had any issues with noise complaints before the resident making the complaint moved in to the area in the summer of 2015. He said: "If my client loses its licence, then the pub will be forced to close. This would result in 14 people losing their jobs. "If we close bars down because of noise complaints we turn the town in to a Sleepy Hollow. "If you choose to live in a flat close to a pub in the city centre, then there is going to be noise. "The clients of the Town House are not causing a disturbance, they are pensioners, by and large. "The city centre seems to be getting quieter and quieter and residents seem to be holding the whip." The complainer was not present at the Licensing Board meeting, and was unavailable for comment.


Jordans nightclub in Cupar given green light to continue youth band nights

June 28 2011

A Cupar nightclub has been allowed to continue holding band nights for teenagers despite police concerns about underage drinking. Councillors on Fife Licensing Board voted in favour of Jordans on Station Road hosting the events, which are targeted at youngsters aged 14 and above, but asked for a report on the premises in six months' time. Fife Constabulary objected on the grounds of "preventing crime and disorder and protecting children from harm". The force's head of licensing Dougie Saunders said the premises had not followed police advice and closed the bar during the events. He said there was a risk that over-18s could purchase alcohol and give it to underage teenagers. "There is a serious concern for us in having such a mixed age group at such an event in a licensed premises," he said. "We're supportive of the event taking place in these premises if no alcohol is on sale within the premises." Mr Saunders said other problems could arise from youngsters smuggling alcohol into the venue, stashing it outside or handing it through windows. Licensee Annaline Webster said the nights had been held to help Cupar Youth Cafe and give young musicians the chance to play in a proper venue. She said the over-18s had to show photographic identification to obtain a wristband that permitted them to buy alcohol, and they could only buy one drink at a time. Ms Webster also assured the board there were no windows in the premises and youngsters were not allowed to come and go, so they could not access any drinks stashed outside. "The cost of putting on such a function for us is quite substantial. We always have door staff on. To make it more feasible we allowed the sale of alcohol to adults," she said. "We are very socially aware and would not want to put ourselves, our patrons or our licence in any danger." David Torrance, seconded by Bill Sangster, proposed a motion to grant the licence on the condition alcohol is not sold during the band nights. However, Bob Eadie's amendment to grant with a report in six months' time, which was seconded by Lawrence Brown, was passed by five votes to three. Mr Eadie said, "There is no evidence of wrongdoing on these premises so far and I think the board would much prefer to have these events in a regulated licensed premises and not in private houses. "What I would say is that this is not a blank cheque for any licensed premises and there should be a report after six months."


Council’s landmark ruling means operators will find it ‘extremely difficult’ to open new pubs in Dundee

August 22 2014

It will be “extremely difficult” for new licensed premises to open in Dundee, following a landmark ruling by the city’s licensing board. Councillors called time on the issuing of new licences for on and off sales unless the applicant can prove their new premises will not contribute to the over-provision of alcohol in the city. Ken Glass, a solicitor with Baillies Law Limited who has represented many licence holders, said Thursday’s decision would make it near impossible for new pubs and off-licences to open or expand in Dundee. He told The Courier: “Clearly the existence of an over-arching policy is going to make it extremely difficult for new operators to move into the city. “Operators hoping to come into the city are now going to have to show substantial reasons why the licensing board should depart from their policy. It is certainly a high test to meet,” he said. Mr Glass believes the controversial decision could provide added value to those business that already hold licences in the city. “It is also going to make the premises that currently have licences more attractive,” he said. “They can now operate with a reasonable degree of certainty that new competition will not be able to move into the area.” The decision to instate the over-provision policy, which will affect all areas except the central waterfront, was made at a meeting of the city council’s licensing board and followed a damning report by the Dundee Alcohol and Drug Partnership (ADP) into the social and monetary cost of alcohol in the city. There was also a city-wide consultation. The board’s convener, SNP member Dave Bowes, had proposed excluding the city centre from the over-provision policy along with the central waterfront, but this motion was defeated by a counter-proposal from Councillor Lesley Brennan. The Labour member said: “I am more comfortable with the over-provision policy covering the entire city (with the exception of the central waterfront). The policy is not aimed at banning alcohol in Dundee completely but is intended to ensure that we ask applicants why they are applying for their licence, while we keep in mind the board’s adopted statement that there is an over-provision of licensed premises in Dundee.” The policy will come into force at the next meeting of the board on October 9 and seven potential new licences or variations that were to be decided on yesterday, had to be deferred to that meeting. The board had previously taken the view that there was insufficient evidence that the city was over-provided. But a number of shocking statistics from the ADP report including that in 2010 alcohol-related harm cost the city £71.05 million led councillors to change their minds.