Edinburgh pub wins fight over loo capacity

By James Wilmore

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Law, Human rights

An Edinburgh pub has won a landmark legal battle against the city's council after the venue was ordered to cut its capacity over of a lack of female...

An Edinburgh pub has won a landmark legal battle against the city's council after the venue was ordered to cut its capacity over of a lack of female toilets.

The Pear Tree - owned by pub group Caledonian Heritable - was told it must cut its capacity from 412 to 200 because of new building regulations in the Licensing Act.

But Edinburgh City Council last week settled the case out of court and paid Caledonian Heritable's legal fees. The pub has also been allowed to restore its capacity to 412.

The council's policy states that pubs need one toilet for every 30 customers, but is based on the idea that half of customers are female.

It is understood up to 100 other pubs have been forced to build new toilets because of the policy, or cut their capacity - and could now be spurred on to take legal action.

Patrick Browne, chief executive of the Scottish Beer & Pub Association (SBPA), said: "Across Edinburgh as a whole operators will have spent hundreds of thousands of pounds on remedial works and on extra legal fees to implement a policy which the board itself wasn't prepared to defend in court. That's a nonsense.

"One of our members spent £60,000 putting in a new toilet so they could get the capacity they wanted. Given that the industry is hard-pressed, having to spend tens of thousands of pounds will not go down well."

However Cllr Marjorie Thomas, the city's licensing board covenor, said it has a "duty to implement the Act and we intend to do so."

She added: "We have spent the last three years implementing the new Licensing Act and part of the legislation involves public health and sanitary provision.

"We work closely with licensees, and where there are listed building issues or premises of an historic nature we try to find an equitable solution."

Glasgow licensing board was proposing similar restrictions last year, but backed down after facing opposition from the SBPA.

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