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Council / Consultation opens on Lerwick byelaw

THE CONSULTATION on the Lerwick alcohol byelaw has now opened online.

The current byelaw prohibits the consumption of alcohol in Lerwick, unless in a licensed premises.

Responses are sought on the wording and geographical extent of the byelaw, which originally came into force in March 2007, following approval by Scottish ministers.

They currently state that “any person who consumes alcoholic liquor in a designated place shall be guilty of an offence and liable on summary conviction to a fine not exceeding level 2 on the standard scale”.

The amount of fine for a “level 2” offence in Scotland is a maximum of £500.

A ‘designated place’ means any place ‘to which the public have access’.  The byelaws also specify that it is not an offence to drink alcohol in a licensed premises or club.

There are stated exception periods, which, for example, do not apply at Hogmanay or at the period covering Lerwick Up Helly Aa.

In June 2023 councillors agreed to undertake a review of the byelaws.

Other councils in Scotland have worded similar byelaws slightly differently, with some referring to an offence being committed if a person is “in a possession of an open container containing alcohol” or “if it reasonable to infer that the person intended to drink from it (the open container)”.

Others include reference to a person who “fails to desist (from consuming alcohol) on being required to do so by a police constable.”

The review also seeks views on whether the geographical extent of the current byelaw remain relevant – such as whether it should be extended to include other areas of Shetland outwith Lerwick, or whether the current byelaw continue to be needed.

Councillor Neil Pearson, who proposed the review and chairs the Shetland Islands area licensing board, said:

“I’m delighted to see the launch of this consultation, the outcome of which I hope will assist our local police to carry out their duties in continuing to keep our community safe.

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“I would like to remind everyone that the existing byelaw, which prevents drinking in unlicensed public places in Lerwick, will still be in force while this consultation is carried out so with the fine weather coming in if you decide to have a drink, please do so responsibly.”

The consultation survey is now open for responses until midnight on Friday 2 July.

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