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Published on August 5th, 2011 | by Dean Carr


Council throws book at Storytelling Centre

A MAJOR Edinburgh tourist attraction in one of the Royal Mile’s most eye-catching buildings has been banned from selling alcohol after failing to pay its bills to the city council.

The Scottish Storytelling Centre’s cafe has been stripped of its alcohol licence because it has failed to pay premises licence fees due last October.

Licensing leaders admitted they were “disappointed” to have to suspend the licence of such a valuable city asset for a minimum of two weeks, but said they had been left with no choice.

It means the High Street venue, opened five years ago following a £3.5 million refurbishment, will not be able to sell alcohol during the busiest time of the year, when festival-goers descend on the Royal Mile. It will also affect any private events booked at the venue.

The centre was one of nine buildings to have its alcohol licence suspended for a fortnight following non-payment of fees.

But many operators have said they only became aware they were on the brink of a suspension when the Evening News printed a list of 35 premises facing an alcohol ban for unpaid fees last week – and criticised the council for a lack of communication on the issue.

Councillor Marjorie Thomas, the city’s licensing leader, said: “There are mandatory conditions and it is essential that this money comes in.”

When serving the suspension on the Scottish Storytelling Centre, the city council’s senior licensing solicitor Nick Fraser said no contact had been made by the owners, which is listed as “The Partnership of Moira McFarlane and Richard Alexander”.

Cllr Thomas said: “They should have paid and, even if they do pay now, they will still be suspended for two weeks. We have to have a level playing field.”

Many of the operators that were facing suspensions only paid after they saw last week’s story in the Evening News. Calvin Laidlaw, who runs the Volunteer Arms on Leith Walk – which escaped a suspension after paying its bill last week – blamed the council’s poor communication.

He said: “When we saw it in the Evening News it was news to us. We never got any notification at all about this. They need to send more than one letter on something like this.”

Other businesses that paid their bill following Friday’s story included Iglu, on Jamaica Street, and Royal Bank of Scotland, for its St Andrew Square branch.

Staff at the Scottish Storytelling Centre said the issue was a matter for cafe operator Glenfinlas, but its managing director Roy Campbell was not available for comment.

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About the Author

Dean Carr

Dean has been involved in alcohol licensing for over 20 years and has helped many independent retailers and corporate clients obtain a licence to sell alcohol or offer late night refreshment, regulated entertainment from all sorts of premises. Dean writes articles for various trade related blogs and is currently Managing Director of the PLT group of companies who run APLH and SCPLH personal alcohol licence courses nationwide. You can contact Dean or a member of his expert licensing team on: 01242 222 188

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