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Council / Scalloway cafe given go-ahead to serve alcohol outdoors

Lerwick Town Hall.

A CAFE in Scalloway has secured a temporary licence to serve alcohol to people outdoors as lockdown restrictions ease.

The Cornerstone will be allowed to serve drink to people sitting in an outside seating area between 11am and 9pm from Monday (6 July) to 12 August.

Owner Terry McCaffrey, however, has conceded there are serious questions over the future of the business as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.

Questions over future of Cornerstone cafe as impact of coronavirus crisis continues

From Monday outdoor hospitality – such as beer gardens – will be allowed with social distancing measures in place.

The Cornerstone application was heard by members of the Shetland area licensing board on Friday morning.

The Cornerstone cafe/restaurant in Scalloway. Photo: Peter Johnson/Shetland News

A request to allow people to sit at a table and drink on the pavement in front of the cafe at Main Street, however, was knocked back over safety worries, with an area to the side of the building preferred.

A number of councillors on the board said they felt the size of the pavement would mean pedestrians could be forced onto the road to get by.

The police shared those concerns when responding to the application, as did the council’s roads department.

“The pavement is of average width and does not look suitable to safely accommodate both restaurant clientele and pedestrians, with the added complication of Covid-19 social distancing restrictions,” a police representative said.

The cafe applied for three licences, with the period running through to 12 August.

Council solicitor Keith Adam said one of the suggestions from police around the applications was that there should be no “upright drinking” – with people having to be sat at tables.

Also among police advice was that there should be disposable, plastic glasses and a 10pm finishing time – not 1am as requested.

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Applicant McCaffrey said that chairs had already been used on the pavement in front of the cafe for a few years, with no complaints.

However, Lerwick councillor Malcolm Bell however said there was a difference between people having a coffee in the afternoon and people drinking alcohol at night.

Board chairman Ian Scott, who lives near the cafe, said he felt the pavement was “not suitable for drinking”.

He said if there was someone had a wheelchair or limited mobility, there was the prospect of being made to walk on the road when getting by.

There was plenty of discussion about the other proposed drinking area – a small piece located on the east side of the building – with councillor Stephen Leask saying he had heard “serious concerns” from locals over its proximity to the playground in Fraser Park.

Lerwick member Cecil Smith proposed a motion limiting the licensing hours to 9pm, and keeping the drinking in the area of owned by the applicant to the side of the building.

Leask, meanwhile, said with Covid-19 social distancing restrictions in place there will be a need for the guidelines to be adhered rigorously.

“It has to be policed relatively well,” he said.

There was also praise for the owners of the Cornerstone for trying something new in a tough economic climate where hospitality businesses are struggling.

The board also heard that a “number of enquiries have been made to the clerk and applications have been received by an existing licensed premises” for a series of occasional licences allowing the outdoor consumption of alcohol.

Councillors agreed to continue to meet through the summer months to decide on future occasional licences.

They were initially asked to discuss whether to allow the board’s clerk to process applications to avoid the board needing to meet regularly.

But councillors were clear that they were happy to sit to discuss applications, with an acknowledgement that “beer garden” requests would likely only come in July and August.

The Mid Brae Inn in the north mainland, meanwhile, is expected to reopen its beer garden once guidance allows.

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