A VILLAGE gala has been given the go-ahead to serve alcohol after arguing that the summer event is not just for children.

Aberlady Gala committee asked East Lothian Council's licensing board to grant a licence for a pop-up bar at the June celebration, saying it was the only event which brought the entire community together.

Board members, who last month refused a licence for Ormiston Gala after ruling it was an event for children and families, were split by the decision, with licensing board convenor Councillor Lachlan Bruce being called on to make the casting vote.

READ MORENo pop-up bar allowed at Ormiston Gala, licensing bosses rule

And after being told that the playing fields where the gala day was held were exempt from a county-wide bylaw which bans drinking in public spaces during the annual event – meaning people could bring their own alcohol if they wanted – the decision was taken to approve the licence.

Steve Polwart, chair of the gala committee, told the board that the gala returned last summer after a two-year break during Covid and was promoted as a community event with a bar.

He said: “It was very successful last year. The population of Aberlady had risen with new housing and we were keen to make people aware the gala was not just for primary school kids, it is for the the community.

“We were committed to getting that message across last year and are doing the same this year.”

The board heard that part of the gala day saw events which welcomed new primary one children to the school and celebrated primary seven children who were moving to secondary school; however, there was also a marquee with a bar and live music stage.

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Mr Polwart said that the gala wanted to be able to let people enjoy “a beer and a burger” at the event.

And he said that despite the fact that people could bring their own alcohol to the playing fields on the day, they did not.

He said: “People do not tend to bring their own alcohol, they use the bar that is there.”

Licensing standards officer Karen Harling had asked the board to consider whether the bar would add anything to the summer event given people could already bring drink to it.

The board was split, with three members voting for the licence and three against.

Councillor George McGuire opposed the licence, telling fellow board members: “I am very concerned. Alcohol and alcohol-related issues are a major factor in Scotland today.

“We need to start somewhere in changing the attitude that alcohol has to be included in everything.”

However, East Lothian Provost John McMillan, also a board member, said that the fact people could bring their own drink to the gala under the bylaw was a factor in him approving the bar.

Mr McMillan said: “It is important to me that the licence holder and stewards are vigilant and there is good control of drinking at the event.”

The occasional licence was approved with conditions.

Board members voting for the licence were councillors Bruce, McMillan and Cher Cassini. Voting against were councillors McGuire, Neil Gilbert and Fiona Dugdale.