LABOUR Party ties brought an East Lothian Licensing Board meeting to an abrupt halt after half the members attending admitted to a friendship with an applicant.

Prestonpans businessman Ferhan Ashiq had applied to increase the size of an alcohol display –and for a name change – at one of his stores.

But Councillor Jim Goodfellow (Lab) immediately recused himself from the application because of his friendship with Mr Ashiq, who is a member of East Lothian Labour Party.

After a short adjournment, Councillor Fiona Dugdale (Lab), convenor, also declared an interest.

Remaining Labour councillor John McMillan, however, said he did not believe his relationship with Mr Ashiq, who has shops in Musselburgh and Prestonpans, could have an impact on his ability to make a decision, while Conservative councillor Jane Henderson said she did not know him.

The board’s legal adviser described the situation as “unusual” but said the board was no longer quorate and Mr Ashiq’s application would have to be continued to the next licensing board for a decision.

But a bemused Mr Ashiq noted: “When it comes to the next meeting I will know most of the board members there.”

Legal adviser Carlo Grilli advised Mr Ashiq to send his father, whose name was on the application, and an agent instead.

The application was to change the name of Mr Ashiq’s Prestonpans store on Redburn Road from Day-Today to Day Today (Prestonpans Village Shop) and increase the alcohol display from 4.4 square metres to 9.75 square metres.