COMMUNITY councillors clashed over whether to object to extended licensing hours at a North Berwick restaurant.

Plans for The Rocketeer Restaurant to open all-year round – between 11am and 10pm, seven days a week – were outlined at a meeting of North Berwick Community Council (NBCC).

The licensing application, for a major variation at The Rocketeer, comes after planning permission was approved by East Lothian Council for a “glass sheet enclosure” at the premises.

The restaurant, which opened in 2012 at the town’s former coastguard station, currently shuts down for the winter months but owner Stirling Stewart hopes to make it a year-round venture.

Previously, Mr Stewart told the Courier that jobs at The Rocketeer could double and that opening all-year-round would make “all the difference” to his business.

But at NBCC’s meeting, member Geraldine Prince said she was “dismayed” at the approval of the planning application. Dr Prince, who lives on neighbouring Victoria Road, felt that the community council should object to the licensing application.

She said: “On clear nights I go to watch the full moon rise over the Bass Rock and am never there on my own.

“Dog walkers, locals, visitors and photographers – including on occasion from abroad – enjoy the peacefulness, the moonlit reflections in the water and the sound of the sea.

“Once this glass-house is built and people pay to drink there it will be gone forever – seven days of the week, 12 months of the year.

“The applicant has the right to try to use the resources of North Berwick to increase the profitability of his business, but there are resources – and solutions – to be explored beyond the permanent invasion of this particular heritage site.”

However, fellow member Bill Macnair disputed Ms Prince’s point.

“It is not dark at all – there are street lights down there and the pathway to the [nearby] Scottish Seabird Centre is lit as well,” he said.

“It will not have any impact and I think it is a fantastic idea.”

Ms Prince said that she would be a “strong supporter of somewhere in North Berwick to have a glass of wine and enjoy the sea views” but that The Rocketeer site was not the right place for it.

Fellow community councillor Olwyn Owen felt the requested hours were “very long” but that was disputed by NBCC secretary Kathryn Smith, who said: “The hours are shorter than on High Street.”

Councillor Jim Goodfellow, North Berwick Coastal ward member, agreed, adding: “The hours are very restrictive in comparison to the other premises [in the town].”

After lengthy debate on the issue, members voted (5-3) not to object to the licensing application.