TRIBUTES have been paid to the chairman of East Lothian Licensing Forum after he passed away last month.

George Hood (pictured), from Port Seton, was a former chairman of Cockenzie and Port Seton Gala committee and headed the licensing forum, which represents the community’s views and holds East Lothian Licensing Board to account.

At a meeting of East Lothian Licensing Board, councillors paid tribute to Mr Hood, describing him as an “excellent person” and expressing their shock at his death.

Ward councillor Lachlan Bruce led the tributes, telling the board: “My thoughts are with his family and friends. I know George is going to be a big loss to the community.”

And Councillor Jim Goodfellow, former chairman of the licensing board, said: “I worked closely with George during my time as chair and found him to be an excellent person to work with.”

Mr Hood headed the forum when its recommendations led to the licensing board scrapping lengthy late opening hours at Christmas and New Year, and criticised the board for failing to follow its advice not to scrap its overprovision policy in the county. The policy had allowed the board to refuse drinks licences to new premises on the assumption there were enough off-sales and pubs in the county.

The forum argued that scrapping it left the board vulnerable.

Councillor Fiona Dugdale, board chairperson, said: “I was really shocked to hear of the passing of George. I am thinking of his family and friends at this time and recognise the work he put in.”

Mr Hood served as chairman of the gala committee for five years before stepping down last summer, and helped it gain charity status.

He was described by the committee as a “larger-than-life character, well-known and respected by committee, villagers and gala kids” when he left the post.