A PEEBLES pub, which was heavily criticised for plans to allow children to accompany adults who are drinking, has been granted the new amendments to its licence.

The County Hotel, on High Street, Peebles, had applied to Scottish Borders Council’s licensing department for permission to allow children to stay in the pub until 10pm, if they are consuming food, or until 8pm if they are not.

Under the terms of the current licence, children must leave the premises by 8pm and will only be permitted before that if they are dining.

The owner of the County Hotel, Bury St Edmunds-based Greene King, contends that the policy is losing them custom.

The police, NHS Borders and council licensing had all objected to the plans, with Dr Tim Patterson, the interim joint director of public health for NHS Borders and Scottish Borders Council, saying: “Exposure to alcohol and witnessing adult drinking can influence our children’s future drinking habits.

“Our children and young people have the right to grow up in an environment where communities are safe, thriving, and are able to grow up safe from alcohol-related harm.”

However, at a meeting of Scottish Borders Council’s licensing board on Friday, November 16, council licensing officers were able to find a compromise with Greene King’s representative Adrian Howlett.

He told councillors: “Apologies for causing so much furore, that wasn’t our intention to drive a coach and horses through your policy.

“Actually, this has come about purely because we’ve spent a lot of money on our premises, and refurbishment.

“The intention here was that the general manager has to turn away a lot of people that currently want to come in and have a drink or a snack, because currently our operating plan says that children have to be eating a meal to be on the premises.

“I don’t think it was ever the intention of your policy that people couldn’t come in and have a coffee or a juice, but actually that is what our operating plan currently says.

“In discussion with council officers, what we hope to come up with is a compromise, that if children come in with their parents then they have to be having a snack or a full meal.

“We’re more than happy for the snack part of the agreement to be time-limited, to not go beyond 6pm, so before 6pm children can accompany adults if they’re just having a snack, whereas after 6pm they’ll need to have a full meal.”

Furthermore, the County Hotel has also applied to allow the sale of alcohol on the premises from 11am on Sundays, which is an hour earlier than the current term of the licence, and to allow designated outdoor drinking facilities.

Councillors were in broad agreement with the compromise regarding allowing children on to the premises, and have voted unanimously to alter the licence of the Crown Hotel, with the condition that selling alcohol in the outside seating area is dependent on permission being granted by the council’s roads planning department.