NHS Shetland has defended its decision to object to a south mainland shop’s plans to change the way it sells alcohol.
Mainlands Mini Market in Dunrossness was given the green light by Shetland Islands Council’s licensing board on Tuesday to extend its sales hours as it moves alcohol from its standalone Keg shop into the main store next door.
NHS Shetland was the only objector to the application to sell drink from 10am to 10pm seven days a week in the mini market as it felt bringing alcohol under one roof increased its accessibility and visibility.
Councillors were disappointed that there was no NHS Shetland representative present at the meeting, but public health principal Elizabeth Robinson said on Wednesday that the health board did not receive an invitation to attend.
Deputy clerk to the licensing board Susan Brunton said that the law does not require objectors to be invited.
“Notice of the meeting and the agenda items are advertised on the council’s website and the board welcomes attendance by any interested parties, if they chose to do so,” she said.
The health board wrote in its objection that there is a problem with over consumption of alcohol in Shetland, adding that it would like to see staff at off-licences “clearly understand how to recognise problem drinking, and know where to direct customers for help and support if required”.
Robinson said that having booze on sale in a separate shop next door was a better way of working and echoed how alcohol is often sold in other countries, many of which have a more positive relationship with alcohol.
“The focus going forwards must be how Shetland, as a community, can move towards a healthy relationship with alcohol,” she said.
“Every day we see the impact of excessive drinking on our local population, and effects that go beyond the person drinking to excess. The key message is that people should drink within the nationally recommended limits, including having alcohol free days every week.”
Robinson added that the NHS will remain “focused on the prevention of alcohol misuse and early intervention when problems do present”.
Brunton reiterated that the board took into account the objection from NHS Shetland when making its decision.
“The board is obliged to grant a premises licence unless one of the statutory grounds for refusal exists,” she said.
“The board did not consider that any of the grounds of refusal applied in the case of the Dunrossness supermarket and therefore granted the application.”
A joint meeting meanwhile between the licensing board and the local licensing forum will take place on Tuesday, with a discussion due to be held on how licensed premises may be able to support NHS health promotions.
Talks will also be held on the issue of whether there is any over provision of alcohol in the isles.
NHS Shetland said for help with alcohol and drug related problems, contact the public health department on firstname.lastname@example.org, 01595 807494 or visit their website.