May 13 2011 by Edwin Lawrence, Ayrshire Post (main ed)
A CALAMITY is coming your way, Girvan.
So says top Ayr lawyer Graeme McKinstry.
For a new drinks licence in the town will create ‘a dangerous cocktail’, he told licensing chiefs.
Discounted booze prices will put ‘temptation in the path’ of young people, he claimed.
And this could lead to disorder – or worse – in grassy spaces at the south end of the town.
Mr McKinstry pointed to a recent armed robbery in Girvan, with the perpetrator still in jail.
He insisted the new licence would be one too many in the town, and would result in ‘over-provision’.
And he claimed it could breach the new licensing objectives.
But the lawyer’s graphic language cut little ice with South Ayrshire Licensing Board.
And members voted unanimously to grant a drinks licence for a new store in Glendoune Street.
Mr McKinstry made his case on behalf of Arif Malik, who operates three drinks licences in Girvan.
And board members clearly thought there was a strong element of trying to exclude competition.
Councillor Ann Galbraith said: “A lot of exaggerated claims have been made.
“It’s not Dante’s Inferno – it’s a convenience store opening in Girvan.”
And Councillor Ian Douglas pointed out: “We have to be very careful about restricting competition.”
Lawyer Brian Dunlop, for applicant MC Stores, painted a totally different picture from Mr McKinstry.
He said the Premier Your Store would move into premises built three years ago – but not occupied.
A Tesco Express had been granted a licence for the premises, which didn’t proceed, after Asda opened in Girvan.
The application comes from two highly respected individuals – Ayr-based accountant Gordon Colvan, who lived in Girvan for many years; and award-winning Drongan grocer Ian Mitchell.
Mr Mitchell will take personal responsibility for the Girvan store, and won’t sell cheap ciders or fortified wines.
Mr Dunlop also pointed to drinks licences that have disappeared from Girvan in recent years – Somerfield, Victoria Wines, and convenience stores at Victory Park and Montgomerie Street.
He said many of the objections had come in two styles of letter signed by customers of the nearby Doune Burn Stores, a convenience store which doesn’t have a drinks licence.
Mr Malik has drinks licences for three convenience stores in the town – Costcutter, Keystore and Sally’s Minimarket.
Other outlets in Girvan for over-the-counter drinks are Asda, Co-op and the Sweetie Shop – the latter only selling miniatures as gifts.
So effectively, the new store will mean a total of six stores selling alcohol in the town.
Mr Mitchell said after the meeting that he is aiming for an opening date of June 29.
The store is likely to attact a business to the smaller adjoining unit, with the Subway sandwich franchise in the frame.