I regard it as a great privilege to chair East Lothian’s License Board, especially as the staff have now steered several hundred premises through the vagaries of implementing the Licensing (Scotland) Act 2005 and its huge differences from the previous 1976 Act.
Last night, I was out with our Licensing Standards Officer, a former senior policeman with the job of keeping in touch with our licensed premises. Sometimes I tag along with our police community beat officers, other times our community wardens on their informal visits to ensure our streets are safe and peaceful. Last night was the LSO’s turn.
Fifty years ago, pubs might have been considered questionable assets in a community. But these days, with East Lothian busily placing itself on the tourist map, they are valuable assets. Last weekend, those in North Berwick were heaving with the traditional Welsh contingent from Barry, celebrating the absolute drubbing their countrymen gave us. A splendid time was had and our hundreds of visitors went home happy.
This weekend was quieter. Yet each premises had their lively group of regulars. From music-throbbing younger bars to good craik with fishermen and firemen over the inevitable TV football to the more subdued hubbub of hotel bars, our licensed premises were on the job as social melting pots for our towns. It was good to see at first-hand.