A KILCREGGAN bar has been granted an extra hour to allow youngsters into its premises for food.

The Creggans will also be allowed to keep its outdoor area open until 10pm instead of 8pm after a hearing by Argyll and Bute licensing board on Tuesday, April 23.

Previously, children and young people had been allowed to stay in the Shore Road bar until 8pm, or until closing time if they were attending an organised event.

The deadline has now been extended until 9pm, to tie in with last orders for food as the premises seeks to become a family-friendly venue.

Licensee Derek Fowlis told the hearing: “Sadly the Kilcreggan Hotel shut last year, so there has been a major increase in tourism coming into the pub.

“This has seen a massive effect on business and tourism, especially now that the ferry is running a lot better.

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“We are the only place in the village now that promotes tourism after 5pm, and the village relies on tourism, because it was dead on its feet when the ferry wasn’t working.

“Everything is supported in the village and that includes the pub. What we are doing right now is trying to do more food which would cater for more families.

“It is simple food – pizzas, nachos, hot dogs and burgers. We have had environmental health officers out checking everything is OK.”

Councillor Richard Trail asked: “The children in the bar – they must be accompanied by an adult? But when they are there in the evening, are they there for a meal?”

Mr Fowlis replied: “They are there for both social reasons and meals. The reason the application has come in is that there has been a massive upturn in visitor numbers. To answer your question – yes.”

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But Councillor Trail responded: “That doesn’t answer the real question. What I am asking is – are you asking for an exception to that?”

Mr Fowlis said: “Yes, to put it bluntly, because a lot of families in the village like to go out socially and we have an uptake within the premises.”

Councillor Trail then said: “I really don’t see a need for an exception. If they are going to be there later in the evening, it should be for the purpose of consuming food.”

Regarding any noise issues in relation to the outdoor area having its hours extended, Mr Fowlis said: “I am happy to work with the environmental officer.

“I have had no issues with any neighbours and am now in my fifth year of running the premises.

“The main road is fenced off within two metres, which was done last year. This was put through planning in the council.”

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Raymond Park, Argyll and Bute Council licensing standards officer, said: “There are premises which are more suitable for children than others. There are people who find it difficult to get their kids out if they are not eating.

“From a Kilcreggan point of view, it is difficult to see why a child should be in a pub socialising. They should be there for food.

“I don’t know if the board wants to consider both sides of the argument?”

Board chairman Councillor David Kinniburgh said: “I hear what is being said and it is a very finely balanced argument, but you are working with the owners of these premises to provide what would appear to be a family friendly premises for the tourism industry.

“I am listening to what people have said and see where Councillor Trail is coming from, but I am willing to listen to the licensing officer.”