Community backlash over plans for 200-capacity pop-up bar at Kirkcaldy’s Links Market

Pic: Michael Gillen
Pic: Michael Gillen

Plans for a pop-up bar at next year’s Links Market have sparked a backlash in the community.

The go-head to sell alcohol for the first time ever in a venue which can cater for up to 200 people until 2:00 am could now be challenged.

Fife Free Press, Nov 7 2019

Fife Free Press, Nov 7 2019

The matter is expected to be discussed at Tuesday‘s meeting of Linktown Tenants And Residents Association, while local councillors have also expressed their concerns.

The pop-up bar was given the go-ahead at Monday’s meeting of Fife Licensing Board, and it would be put on the old garage depot site at the end of the Esplanade for next year’s Links Market.

The board voted in favour despite a motion to reject the application being tabled by Councillor Alistair Cameron, whose Kirkcaldy Central ward hosts the long-established market every Spring.

He has since been inundated with calls expressing concern over selling alcohol at the event.

“There is a local backlash,” he said. “People living in the area are very concerned about the decision, and I’m not surprised.”

The application to launch a pop-up bar came from S&D Leisure which has operated such ventures successfully at various markets and events in England.

You may also be interested in:

Lidl reveals timescale for new Kirkcaldy store

Opening hours cut at Fife swimming pool

A92 closure planned for roadworks

It hosted its first Scottish pop up bar at the Glasgow Christmas Market last year.

S&D also applied in 2018 without any objections, but the move was too late to set up the bar.

This year it lodged a planning application on July 31 which appears not to have been picked up by local community groups or the police who did not raise a formal objection, but did speak against it at Monday’s meeting.

The lack of public awareness over such a potentially contentious application is one area now being raised as groups react to the board’s decision to approve by five votes to three.

There are also concerns over anti-social behaviour and late night noise.

“I have absolutely no problem with the company behind the application,” said Cllr Cameron. “It has operated at events in England and Wales, and there is nothing wrong with the structure, but it is simply not what the Links Market wants or needs.

“Our market has always been alcohol free – and for good reason. There is no reason to change that next year.

“We have worked very hard with the police and the market’s security team to ensure we have a safe Links Market.”

The Press understands the applicant has still to obtain permission from the landowners to put the pop-up bar in place.

If that is forthcoming it would operate until 2:00 am – long after the market closes each evening.

It proposes inside and outside seating areas, with a capacity for up to 200 people.

It is understood the bar would close as the market ends, and then re-open its interior only to fair workers and their families until 2.00 am.

And if it moves on to the empty site, then it would also impact on the space available for showmen to park their lorries and caravans for the duration of the event.

Solicitor Janet Hood argued: “My client applied last year and there were no objections then. Unfortunately it came too late for them to be able to set anything up.

“Mr Reeves has been part of the Showmen’s Guild for over 40 years, running successful events south of the border. My client is aware that the showmen don’t like to have bars within the event, which is why it will be adjacent to the market.”

Councillors on the licensing board granted permission despite police concerns.

Inspector Stewart McMillan said: “This has never been an event that previously needed alcohol.

“Individual anti social behaviour already has potential to affect the event.

“The presence of a bar selling alcohol will only add to the discontent.”

Councillor Neil Crooks, who chairs Kirkcaldy area committee, added his concerns over the board’s decision.

“All the work done has been getting the message across that you cannot take alcohol into the Links Market. To open a pop-up bar seems irrational,” he said.

David Torrance MSP said: “We do not need this. It is a family event. It must be family orientated.

“In the past the market has attracted anti-social behaviour, often been fuelled by alcohol.

“This decision sends the wrong message and risks exacerbating the problem.”