Council / Push to review Lerwick’s alcohol byelaw to ensure it remains ‘relevent’

Jim Mullay's photograph of the street in June 2021.

A MOTION is to go in front of councillors next week pushing for the SIC to review the Lerwick alcohol byelaw.

Lerwick councillor and licensing board chairman Neil Pearson, who has proposed the motion, said he is keen to ensure the byelaw is “still relevant to meet the needs of our community”.

“The particular area I have an interest in is protecting our youth from harm and I am simply asking the question, can we be doing more by means of updating our byelaw to enable this,” he added.

It comes after recent concerns over antisocial behaviour in the town centre.

The byelaw prohibits drinking alcohol in public in Lerwick, and it came into force in 2007. There are exemptions for Hogmanay and Up Helly Aa.

Pearson’s motion says that when the byelaw was set reviews should have been carried out every two years, but he believes this has not been the case.


“Much has changed since they were last reviewed and feedback from the police is that they are difficult to enforce and therefore – in my opinion anyway – are potentially in need of some minor updates,” the councillor said.

“Our police have stated that the byelaws need to be clear and enforceable I want our legal team to conduct a review and to open discussions with the police and various other stakeholders to see if we can do anything to help.

“I also want to remind many that a byelaw does exist in Lerwick and it is an offence to have an open container of alcohol in public places in Lerwick.”

His motion calls on the council to carry out a full review of the byelaw and then propose to either maintain the status quo or suggest recommendations where the byelaw can be strengthened.

It also calls on the SIC to commit to a further review of the byelaw every five years.

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Pearson said the review should give “particular consideration to any measures which could be introduced to prevent persons under the age of 18 from being in possession of alcohol of any description regardless of whether that container is open or sealed”.

The motion also calls for consideration to be given of the boundary lines of the byelaws “to ensure they remain relevant and in line with any planned future developments”.

The notice of motion will be presented to a meeting of the full Shetland Islands Council on Wednesday. It has been seconded by Shetland South member Allison Duncan.

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