Forge Market cafe’s alcohol licence bid refused amid ‘day time drinking’ concerns

A Glasgow cafe’s bid to serve alcohol at the Forge Market has been turned down by the city’s Licensing Board after concerns over “day time drinking” were raised.
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Bensons Cafe applied for a provisional premises licence as it wanted to offer a “small drinks menu” alongside meals when the Duke Street market is open.

But Glasgow’s health and social care partnership (HSCP) objected to the plan, suggesting it was “not a suitable environment for general sale of alcohol”.

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A HSCP spokeswoman said a licence would facilitate “day time drinking”. “That is something that we just cannot agree with in the locality, where the level of harm is substantially greater than that of the Scottish rate,” she added.

Stephen McGowan, the licensing lawyer representing the applicant, said the cafe only opens when the market is open. The market’s regular hours are 10am to 5pm from Thursday to Sunday.

He argued day time drinking is “not itself irresponsible”. “The fact that alcohol may be consumed during the day is not a reason to refuse a licence,” he said.

Members of the Licensing Board decided granting a licence would be “inconsistent with the licensing objectives of protecting and improving public health” and “protecting children and young persons from harm”.

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The HSCP spokeswoman said the Forge Market “describes itself as a family-friendly environment”. “We respectfully suggest this is not a suitable environment for general sale of alcohol,” she added.

“Evidence indicates that the health impacts from alcohol within not only Old Shettleston, which is currently seeing alcohol hospital related admission rates 43% above the Scottish rate, but the wider community is significantly greater than that as well.”

She said the market “serves the wider Parkhead area” and it is “safe to say that this is an area where the level of harm is quite significant”.

“We are concerned should the board be minded to grant that this would reduce the number of community spaces within the Parkhead area where those wishing to avoid alcohol would be able to access,” the spokeswoman added.

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“This is a family-friendly amenity and we want to continue that to be so.”

Mr McGowan said Bensons is a “quality cafe offer” and the Forge Market is “a Glasgow institution”, adding the cafe is “very popular” and “part of the success story of the market itself”.

“The application today is the next step in the journey of the business, and what they want to do is introduce a modest alcohol offer,” he added.

“Bensons cafe will still be Bensons cafe, the application is not designed to turn the premises into a bar or a pub. It will remain the much-loved Bensons it has always been but with a small drinks menu, offering a few beers and a few wines.”

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Mr McGowan said the application was due to “customer demand” as people using the market would like the “option of a glass of wine with their lunch”. “It is designed to be a space that welcomes children and young people and families.”

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