A convenience store has extended its alcohol display area after a solicitor argued it was dealt an economic blow by the arrival of Morrisons.
Licensing expert Alistair Macdonald successfully persuaded Midlothian Licensing Board to grant his client, Hardeesh Singh, permission to increase the display at Best Grocers, 1 Jarnac Court, Dalkeith, from 10.79 square meters to 17.66 square meters.
This was despite objections from Police Scotland, NHS Lothian and Midlothian Councillors Bob Constable (SNP) and Margot Russell (Lab).
Mr Macdonald told the Board: “How can an extra meter encourage the kids to purchase alcohol? If they want a huge range of alcohol and it’s all to do with the size of the display and the variety of alcohol, surely they would go to Morrisons?
“From our client’s point of view as a small operator, within walking distance there has been a huge increase of alcohol display and competition since the opening of the new Morrisons. If it had not been for Morrrisons opening we would not be here today.
“I don’t see how this application would lead to an increase in availability and I don’t see any evidence that it would result in an increase in the consumption of alcohol.”
Mr Macdonald added that an refrigerated area of alcohol was needed to compete with the chilled wine section at Morrisons: “Our clients are simply trying to provide wine that is cold instead of room temperature. I’m not pretending there isn’t an economic reason for that because clearly there is. Our clients have found that because people have this far greater availability to them in Morrisons they don’t just buy their alcohol there, they buy everything there. People are going to buy their weekly or daily shopping at Morrisons instead of coming here, one of the reasons being that there is a bigger selection of alcohol, including cold wine.”
Police Chief Inspector Kenny Simpson had argued: “It’s our opinion that a larger display would result in a greater potential for young people to be accessing alcohol.”