Pubs may be forced to notify authorities before hosting 18th and 21st birthday parties

By Emily Hawkins contact

- Last updated on GMT

Party poopers: Midlothian Council has outlined plans that would see pubs compelled to notify local authorities before hosting 18th and 21st birthday events
Party poopers: Midlothian Council has outlined plans that would see pubs compelled to notify local authorities before hosting 18th and 21st birthday events

Related tags: Birthday, Underage drinkers

Licensing authorities in Midlothian, Scotland have outlined plans that would mean pubs must notify authorities a fortnight before hosting 18th or 21st birthday parties.

However, an industry chief has said this policy runs the danger of suggesting pubs are dangerous and unsuitable places for such events.

The council's policy states that licensed premises in the area must inform licensing authorities of planned birthday events at least a fortnight beforehand.

The Licensing Board’s proposals set out its intentions to secure public safety and prevent underage drinking.

Fortnight's notice

It states: “All premises hosting 18th or 21st birthday parties should give a minimum of 14 days’ notice of these events to the police licensing officer and the licensing standards officer by email,” it states.

“Good practice would also be for licensees to additionally notify any immediate neighbours or those who live along obvious dispersal routes of such parties.”

Brigid Simmonds, chief executive of the Scottish Beer & Pub Association (SBPA), told The Morning Advertiser​ the policy could backfire and result in unlicensed venues hosting such parties instead.

She said: “A positive relationship between licensees, LSOs and the police benefits everyone, and the licensed trade remains stalwart in our dedication to reducing instances of underage drinking.

Risky message

“However, this policy risks sending the message that pubs and bars are unsuitable venues for 18th and 21st parties.

“This would undoubtedly result in more parties taking place in unlicensed venues (house parties), where there is no duty of care, consideration of the licensing objectives and a greater risk of underage drinking.”

The SBPA has been working closely with police in tackling proxy purchasing, as part of the Scottish Alcohol Industry Partnership (SAIP), Simmonds said.

A national roll-out of a pilot scheme to prevent adults buying alcohol for children in North Lanarkshire is being considered.

The Morning Advertiser ​asked its Twitter followers what they thought​ about the birthday party policy - 84% of voters in the poll said they did not like the idea.

Birthday Poll Twitter

However, Midlothian council said it held a public consultation about the proposal and did not receive any concerns from licensees. 

The chair of the Midlothian Licensing Board, councillor Derek Milligan added: “There’s no suggestion pubs and bars are unsuitable as venues for 18th  ​or 21st​ birthday parties.

"The two weeks’ notice is to make the local police and other relevant bodies aware of such events beforehand.

"No one would disagree that young people should be allowed to enjoy themselves at parties. What we’re trying to do is make sure they do so in a safe environment.”

Related topics: Entertainment, Licensing law

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