Aberdeen councillors will attend a hastily arranged meeting tomorrow to decide whether to officially call for a licensing bid from an under-fire Aberdeen pub to be thrown out.
The gathering of the little-used special licensing objections committee comes amid uproar surrounding the Draft Project.
The beer tent in Langstane Place was the centre of controversy during last week’s Scotland v Serbia match when jubilant football fans disregarded coronavirus guidance as they watched their team qualify for next summer’s Euros.
Aberdeen Licensing Board will meet tomorrow afternoon to discuss an application for a new occasional licence for the PB Devco venue.
It is understood to have been brought forward from early next week at the request of the pub group, which owns several bars in the city.
Currently operating the marquee on an occasional licence, the firm is required to renew its permissions every fortnight.
As a separate legal entity from the licensing board, the council could add its voice to those calling for the application’s refusal – dependent on the vote of the committee’s three administration members and two opposition members.
The special meeting was called by Liberal Democrat group leader Ian Yuill, who told The P&J: “This occasional licence application has generated a huge amount of controversy in the city and the Liberal Democrats believe the special licensing objections committee should consider whether the council wishes to object to it.
“People were shocked by the videos shared online from the Draft Project during the Scotland game and it seems to me quite clear management had failed to anticipate or plan for Scotland fans getting excited – which seems frankly incredible.
“And once the fans did start celebrating and singing, the management appeared unable to respond to that.
“In my view there were clear breaches of four licensing objectives: preventing crime and disorder, securing public safety, preventing public nuisance and protecting and improving public health.
“Given that record, it is only right the council considers whether it wishes to object to the application, though I appreciate it is for the licensing board – and not the council – to ultimately grant the application.”
It is thought there have already been a significant number of objections, including one from Mr Yuill as a private citizen, as well as a representation from the police.
Officers were forced to attend the night spot during Scotland’s dramatic penalty shoot-out win, removing a number of people for breaching the rules.
With the licensing board meeting scheduled for 4.30pm, the deadline for representations is only half an hour earlier.
Refusing to comment, board convener Marie Boulton instead pressed The P&J to name sources who had confirmed when the meeting would take place.
She indicated she would be referring board members to the monitoring officer for a “formal investigation”.
SNP group leader Alex Nicoll said: “I am concerned to learn Mrs Boulton has agreed to fast-track the licensing board meeting for the Draft Project from an agreed date next week to tomorrow.
“There is considerable public concern and I would imagine there are a number of objections and comments from members of public and other bodies which councillors will now have to consider in a short space of time.
“It is certainly not in the public interest for these processes to be rushed through at the behest of Mrs Boulton.”
Moving the meeting means customers could well be visiting the Draft Project this weekend.
Had the meeting remained slated for next week, the objections would have halted the sale of alcohol at the beer tent.
On Saturday and Sunday, the beer garden at another PB Devco pub, the Bieldside Inn, had to go dry, awaiting a hearing on an occasional licence application.
Director Stuart Clarkson – who previously admitted staff had “misjudged” his venues’ ability to cope with the “outbreak of joy at Scotland’s success” – declined to comment.