A decision to grant pubs and clubs extended operating hours over the festive period has been welcomed by local traders and politicians.
Members of the licensing board agreed the traditional one-hour extension to boost “struggling” trade, despite claims by Fife police that the scheme contributed to a rise in offences last year.
MSP David Torrance, a former member of ‘neighbourhood watch’ organisation Pubwatch, told The Press, Kirkcaldy after dusk was hardly a hotbed of crime.
“Look at what Kirkcaldy High Street was six or seven years ago - it has completely changed its image for the better,” he commented.
“Over the last few years Pubwatch has gone well. You just have to look at door security. That’s made a huge difference as well as dedicated taxi ranks.”
He added: “People seem to forget that the high street has a night-time economy - pubs and clubs play an important role in local employment - so I welcome the decision.
“Hopefully it will encourage extra footfall in the town centre area especially in such difficult economic times when pubs and nightclubs are struggling to survive.”
On-sales in pubs and clubs will run until 1.00 a.m. of every day of the festive period from December 2 until January 2.
Although police had reported a rise in acts of violence in Kirkcaldy, “they assure us they can handle it,” said board chairman Bob Young.
The move, which could result in thousands of pounds of extra revenue for local traders, was welcomed by Sandy Haxton, owner of Betty Nicol’s and treasurer of Fife Licensing Trade Association.
“The licensing trade has always benefited from an extension of hours over the festive period,“ he said.
“In the current economic climate it’s encouraging that the board recognise the problems the trade is experiencing and fully supports licencees.
“Kirkcaldy town centre is one of the safest in Scotland and this is a result of the trade working in partnership with a number of initiatives such as Pubwatch, taxi ranks and police.”
Head of licensing Dougie Saunders said reports of crime, violence and disturbance were notable in relation to license hours.
Extending them would also extend incidents further into the night.
“The chief constable does not object to the current proposals, but would have serious reservations if the hours were extended further,” he commented.