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Business / Baltasound bar beckons for Unst

The Balta Light pub in Unst pictured in late November when it opened on an occasional licence. Photo courtesy of Balta Light.

BRITAIN’s most northerly island is set to have a standalone pub after a new Unst bar was granted a licence.

Balta Light will be located at the old masonic lodge at Hagdale in Baltasound, and it is set to have an open day on Saturday (22 December).

The new venture came up in front of Shetland’s licensing board on Tuesday where it was given the thumbs up from councillors.

The pub is the work of Desley Stickle, her husband Leslie and brother in law Frank.

It features a pool table, darts board and a jukebox, while its function room has a small stage. The owners hope to refurbish the kitchen next year to allow bar meals to be served.

Unst Community Council wrote a letter of support for the business, saying that there is currently only one public bar on the island at Saxa Vord Resort.

The small lounge bar at the Baltasound Hotel is only open to diners and residents.

“We believe this new business venture would have the support of the community, particularly in the busy tourist season but also in the winter months. It is near the main road and within walking distance of the Baltasound Pier for visiting yachts,” community council chairman Gordon Thomson wrote.

The pub – which has already opened its doors with an occasional licence – will be in business between Wednesday-Sunday through to April, while it will welcome customers seven days a week during the summer.

Desley Stickle said after the meeting that it was “very important” for the Unst community to have a pub in a central location.

“We’re delighted to have the licence in place now, just before Christmas is a good time to start I think,” she said.

“At the moment we will just be a public bar – we will just be serving drink. We will hopefully renovate the kitchen, that’s our plan, and once we get that done hopefully through 2019 we will then look at serving bar meals and snacks, but that’s something for the future. At the moment we need get our feet under us and get up and running as a bar.

“There’s a lot of people spoken to us and come and seen us since we came up with the idea and decided this was what we’re going to do, because since the public bar at the hotel closed – Saxa Vord has had a bar open which has served the island really well, they’ve done a good job – a lot of people want something more central, and there’s a lot of people who have said they’re really looking forward to us opening and having somewhere being run by local people as well. I think that makes a difference.”

The board, meanwhile, agreed to issue a written warning to the licence holder of the Spiggie Hotel after he failed to pay a licence fee of £70 on time in addition to not having a premises manager in place after the business changed hands last year.

Christopher Lee apologised to the board and said the matters were due to a misunderstanding and a “typographical” error. Both issues have now been rectified.