BRECHIN’S licence holders have joined forces to send a clear message to Angus Council’s Licensing Board, writes Steve Mitchell.
“We don’t want Wetherspoons and we want the local authority to play their part in enticing the sort of retail elements to the town that are so desperately needed” is what they are saying.
In last week’s “Brechin Advertiser” we revealed how the national pub chain was looking at increasing its share of the Scottish market place considerably by investment in some of the country’s more rural and semi rural areas.
However, the news has brought an impassioned reply from those already trying to make a living from the licensed trade in the town and the message is a clear one: Wetherspoons aren’t welcome in Brechin.
Alan Renilson of The Brown Horse said: “We are supposed to be promoting sensible drinking these days and they have offers on which amount to less than £2 a pint or £6 for a bottle of wine.
“However, my main concern is they would cost people like myself and Kevin Mackie at the Northern staff.
“There is no doubt that if you can get fish and chips for £5.99, then people aren’t going to go to places charging £8 and £10.
“Our trade would suffer, we would lay staff off and we would no longer be buying all our meat and poultry from Bruce Brymer the local butcher.
“I think that’s the sort of ripple effect it would have in a small community like Brechin.
“It isn’t just the cheap alcohol and the problems associated with that, it’s the human cost in terms of the loss of jobs and the loss of business for a number of local traders, not just the pubs.
“Wetherspoons won’t source meat locally. They may employ a few people, but would that number be greater than the jobs lost elsewhere?
“If you or I applied to the Licensing Board for another licence in Brechin tomorrow I would almost guarantee it would be turned down.
“The simple fact of the matter is Brechin, as has been declared by members of the board previously, is already over subscribed.
“Brechin doesn’t need another pub.
“I believe the Montrose publicans and indeed the Montrose councillors closed ranks and said they too didn’t need another pub in the town.
“They, like me, believed that it would have quite an adverse effect on their business.
“I couldn’t compete with their prices and I don’t think many people could.
“We support local business and get all our food stuffs, be it meat, bread or anything else, locally.
“I don’t think there would be as many jobs created as there would be jobs lost.
“I think Brechin is in far more need of retail in a town that already has 16 pubs.
“I would far rather our local councillors made encouraging noises to retailers who wanted to open up shops and I think we need shoe shops, clothes shops, perhaps even a sports shop.
“We certainly need a lot more things as a priority for the people of the town other than another pub.
“The coffee shops, restaurants and other eating establishments would also suffer a knock-on effect. You can liken it to supermarkets and small traders.
“Here we have a large trader trying to buy into what is already a very limited market place and will it be of benefit to Brechin? I doubt it.”
Kevin Mackie, a partner in the Northern Hotel, also highlighted the net effect of job losses on local businesses.
He said: “While I welcome any business moving into Brechin, we have to consider what the overall cost to the town could prove to be in terms of people’s jobs and livelihoods.
“We want to see the local authority encouraging employment, not unemployment, and I think the need for further additions to the licensed trade are questionable.”