Bowling club granted extended drinking hours amid neighbour complaints

North Berwick Bowling Club applied to extend its weekend opening hours to 1am on Fridays and Saturdays.

North Berwick Bowling Club granted extended drinking hours amid neighbour complaints © Google Maps 2022

A number of residents have objected to plans to extend drinking hours at a bowling club, with one claiming the town was “in bed by ten o’clock”.

North Berwick Bowling Club, which has been in existence since the 1860s, applied to extend its weekend opening hours to 1am on Fridays and Saturdays.

East Lothian Licensing Board received 16 objections from people living around the club, which is on Clifford Road in the seaside town.

Most raised concerns about the impact of noise from late night events as well as people smoking outside and leaving in the early hours of the morning.

The club revised an additional request to open until midnight on Sundays, moving the closing time back to 11pm.

Willie Sykes-Robertson, secretary of the bowling club, said the decision to apply for a major variation was “not taken lightly” by them.

He moved to reassure neighbours, saying: “We are not looking to create a party pub or atmosphere, we are looking to enhance what we have for our members and the community.

“We take any concerns from our neighbours seriously and we hope we are not going to cause a major issue. The last thing we want to do is upset our neighbours in any shape or form since around 1865 and we hope it will be here for some time to come.”

Alan Woolley, who attended the virtual meeting to object to the extended licensing hours, pointed out the club was in a quiet residential area backing onto houses.

He said: “It is almost a standing joke that North Berwick is in bed by ten o’clock at night.”

Mr Woolley said that pre-pandemic, when there were occasional events at the club, neighbours could hear the noise, which was noticeable and disturbing.

He said: “The bowls club has to operate during the day, that is what it does. It is a nice, genteel, quiet sport which must be encouraged.

“The suggestion that that goes into evening events, even up to ten o’clock is alien to the local environment.”

Despite the objections the board voted unanimously to allow the club to extend its hours on Friday and Saturday to 1am as well as allowing changes to the licence to allow off-sales from 10am to 10pm, and an extended outdoors drinking area.

Councillor Jane Henderson, board member, said that after reading the objections and hearing both sides she was happy to grant the changes to the licence.

She said: “We can’t anticipate problems but we are here to react to them.

“It would be entirely wrong to assume that everyone that goes to a private club creates mayhem and chaos and noise.

“What is being asked for is within our policy and the bowling club has been there for a very long time so I don’t think the request is unreasonable in the 21st century.”

She urged residents who were affected by noise from the club or incidents to report them to the licensing authority or police in the future.

She added: “It can always come back to the licensing board for reconsideration.”