THE Shetland Area Licensing Board has deferred a decision whether to grant a one hour extension to the Brae hall on Up Helly Aa hop night.
The board bounced the decision to its next meeting on 12 March, three days before Delting Up Helly Aa, to give a hall representative the chance to put the case for granting the extension.
An excerpt from a letter from the community hall committee says: “We are applying for the extension of one hour on hop night to help with making the leaving of our patrons safer. We feel that it will make for a less frantic exodus meaning things will be more relaxed with people feeling they can take their time and hopefully leave in a more orderly fashion”.
The Hillswick hall had earlier been issued a similar licence extension for the same reason at the Northmavine Up Helly Aa.
Board member and Shetland Islands Councillor Alastair Cooper said it was his understanding that the hall intended to close the bar at 1am on Sunday to give patrons a potential hour and a quarter to drink up and avoid a scramble at closing time.
It was exactly the same debate as had been held over the Hillswick extension, he said. There were a great many visitors from outside the communities to the Northmavine and Brae Up Hell Aas and it was best to avoid a logjam of people and taxis at closing time at these halls.
But fellow councillor Cecil Smith said that he had reservations about that decision and that the Brae application was “asking us to bend the law just for one organisation. I am not going to support this as it will open the flood gates.”
Councillor Steven Leask suggested that the event be “monitored” to make sure that the reason for the licence was not abused. If it was, there should be no future licence extension issued.
Board chairman Ian Scott said that if the licence was issued, it was up to the hall to decide what to do with that extra hour of time, but that using it to give patrons extra drinking up time was a good idea.
Councillor Malcolm Bell then moved that the decision should be deferred until the next meeting when someone from the Brae Community Hall could be in attendance.
The board also agreed to put up its alcohol licensing fees by five per cent with an annual review of fees to be introduced. This was fair enough and in line with inflation, it heard, as it was two years since the fee had been increased last.