A new licensing statement by the Edinburgh Licensing Board will block the opening of licensed premises in large parts of the city centre classed as having too many businesses selling alcohol.
Cowgate and the Grassmarket have already been categorised as areas of overprovision. Now, the Old Town, Princes Street, Leith Street, Tollcross, Dean Village, the West End, Haymarket, Southside, Canongate and Dumbiedykes are being added to the list.
The decision has been received negatively by traders, who warned it would jeopardise the viability of major new premises such as the Virgin and Gleneagles Hotels, as well as the new Edinburgh Gin and the Johnnie Walker Experience visitor centre.
Contrarily, councillor Norman Work welcomed the decision. ‘By extending the areas of overprovision we have demonstrated our commitment to addressing alcohol-related crime and health problems,’ he said.
‘[The new licensing statement] will help us to ensure the safety and wellbeing of the public, while also maintaining Edinburgh’s rich and varied entertainment scene.’
Police have also embraced the decision, agreeing that it will help reduce alcohol-related crime.
‘A large number of the crimes we investigate, particularly public space offences, have alcohol as a contributing factor,’ said chief superintendent Gareth Blair.
‘The decision by the Edinburgh Licensing Board is a very positive step in helping keep the public safe and reduce the number of offences where alcohol is involved.’
The new measures, however, have been strongly criticised by the Scottish Beer & Pub Association (SBPA).
‘The policy of overprovision is fundamentally flawed, with no evidence to show that it achieves a reduction in alcohol-related harm, while simultaneously sending a message that the area is closed for business,’ SBPA chief executive Brigid Simmonds argued.