This week Craig Borland gives his reaction to the decision by Argyll and Bute’s licensing board to impose sanctions on the Logie Baird pub in Helensburgh over police concern at late-night disorder.


INCIDENTS of public disorder in Helensburgh’s James Street have long been a regular feature of the round-up of police incidents we publish in the Advertiser each week.

Although the incident reports we receive from the police don’t always say so, it’s fair to guess that a significant number of them take place in, or in the vicinity of, the licensed premises which are located in the street.

The matter has come to a head this week with the decision by Argyll and Bute’s licensing board to cut back on the late night opening hours of one of those premises, the Logie Baird.

The decision to allow the bar to serve alcohol until 1am instead of 2am at weekends, and to impose an 11pm weekend curfew, will only be in effect for six months. But if it does result in a fall in the number of incidents in James Street, it’s hard to imagine the licensing board taking another look later in the year and deciding to let things go back to the way they were.

I completely understand the police’s concerns over the number of incidents at or near the Logie Baird – especially those which have required paramedics to attend too. But I also feel some sympathy with Cara and Milan Nikolic, who run the pub.

READ MORE: Helensburgh pub has licensing hours cut over disorder fears

They are entirely right to point out that as one of only two pubs in the town with a late night licence, it’s only natural that people are likely to gravitate – or maybe stagger – towards the Logie Baird after everywhere else has shut, and that those who are denied entry by the Logie Baird’s stewards because they’re too drunk are much more likely to kick off in the street. It hardly seems fair to punish one establishment for not letting in drunken louts.

The Logie Baird will also have a knock-on effect on the only other premises in the town with a late night weekend licence. If punters can’t go to the Logie Baird once time is called everywhere else, they’ll head for that one other venue, and if, as Cara Nikolic says, the proprietor of that venue is indeed worried at the consequences of the Logie Baird decision, I can fully understand why.

If, as the Nikolics say, late night opening is vital to the Logie Baird’s sustainability, that’s another question entirely. As is the habit an awful lot of Brits have of using the weekends to try and fit as much drink as they can into as short a time as possible.

Surely if someone wants to get blind drunk and kick off on a Friday or Saturday night, they’ll do it, regardless of whether the pubs shut at 1am or 2am. If that results in incidents of drunken disorder being spread out over several hours, rather than concentrated into one street in the early hours of Saturday and Sunday morning, it will no doubt please the police – though whether it will do anything to tackle the overall issue of alcohol misuse is rather more debatable.