WEDDING planners have been warned to expect to close bars early at midweek events in East Lothian, after licensing chiefs raised concerns about a growing number of events looking for longer drinking hours.

Two wedding venues were refused permission to serve drinks until midnight at upcoming parties planned on days when the county’s licensing policy sets last calls by 11pm.

A meeting of East Lothian Council's licensing board on Thursday heard concerns from members at a rise in midweek weddings and occasional licence applications which requested extended drinking hours.

The board heard an application from Dunglass Estate, near Cockburnspath, for six occasional licences for weddings over the next two months at the venue allowing alcohol to be served between 2pm and midnight.

But while five of the weddings were on Saturdays, when board policy allows drink to be served up to midnight, one in April was for a Wednesday.

The licensing board’s on-sales trading hours are 11am to 11pm Monday to Wednesday, 11am to 1am Thursday to Saturday, and 11am to midnight on Sundays.

'Setting a precedent'

Councillor Neil Gilbert moved that the event on Wednesday have its hours amended to an 11pm closing time, telling fellow board members: “I can see no reason for the wedding to go on until midnight on a Wednesday.”

He was backed by fellow board member Councillor George McGuire, who said: “We are seeing a large number of midweek wedding applications coming in but the board policy was put in place for a reason.

“We would be setting a precedent and would see more follow if we approve this.”

The board unanimously approved the licences with the restricted 11pm time for the midweek wedding.

They then considered an application for 35 occasional licences for weddings at Broxmouth Courtyard, east of Dunbar – eight of which, the board was told, went on beyond the council’s early-weekday cut-off times.

Applicant Paul Mitchell told the board that the premises had been allowed to hold weddings during the week with a midnight licence in previous years and urged them not to impose the restriction on the venue for midweek celebrations.

However, Mr McGuire said that the board had to stick to its policy, adding: “We have refused an application from Dunglass and I see no reason to change that.”

The Broxmouth events were also restricted to the hours set out in the board’s policy.