The Union will now open until 2am, seven days a week. It previously opened until 1am from Sunday until Wednesday and until 2am from Thursday through to Saturday.
Last year, the licensing board refused a late licence for Rascals Bar on North Street to open until 1am every day on the grounds that local hotel and bed and breakfast owners had complained that the noise levels were affecting tourism in the town.
This led to worries that the opening hours of pubs and clubs in the town were to be cut, as board members argued that many venues in St Andrews were operating outwith the licensing policy. The policy recommends that bars and clubs should only be open until 12am from Sunday until Thursday and until 1am on Friday and Saturday nights
Other venues in the town have been allowed a late licence, however. The Lizard Lounge, on North Street, has been been open until 2am for over a year and Aikman’s has recently been allowed to open until 1am every night.
Solicitor Tom Johnston told the board that as these other venues are open later, it was fair to extend the licence for the Union.
“The purpose of the application is to ask for a level playing field,” he said.
He also explained that the Union was a unique case because of the supervised environment and duty of care that is provided within the building.
“There are some people who get a wee bit silly, and sometimes people just need that extra bit of care.
“They make sure that people leaving the Students’ Association get taxis. In some cases people get a lift back to their accommodation if they need it.
“It’s making sure that if a student is being a bit daft and has gone too far, that they will get home safely. It’s either that or go somewhere else where profit is more important than the duty of care referred to.
“Society has changed, and the opening hours of other establishments in St Andrews reflect that.”
Licensing board member Andrew Rodger moved for refusal and was backed by Lawrence Brown.
Mr Rodger said: “Students are there to study and get qualifications. To encourage them to drink more hours than they already do, I don’t know if the principal or chancellor of the University would be happy with us taking that forward.”
Bill Connor moved approval, seconded by Tom Adams. The variation to the licence was approved by three votes to two.
A temporary extension in Freshers’ Week allowed the Union to remain open until 2am for the entire week. Following that success, director of events and services Dan Palmer expressed his delight at the news that this extension would become permanent.
He said: “The Students’ Association is pleased to receive an extension to its licence to stay open until 2am every night. We have both security and welfare measures in place to ensure that the Union is a safe place for students to enjoy their night, and we are pleased to make this available regardless of the day of the week.
“It allows us to be clearer to students in our closing times, and also for our society spaces to be used for an extra hour. The temporary extension in Freshers’ Week proved popular, and we hope students can enjoy the facilities and safety that the Union has to offer both now and in our redeveloped building.”
However, Jamie Anderson, director of Rascals Bar argued that Fife Council’s policy was unfair and that all venues should be treated equally. He said: “After the announcement of another late license being approved in St Andrews, we at Rascal Bar feel a little disappointed with Fife Council. Last year, we were refused a 1am license every night. The councillor stated that they felt more late night venues in St Andrews would not be beneficial to tourists visiting the town and would increase noise problems.
We are very happy at the venues in town pushing the license boundaries and know we will enjoy the later hours when we visit these other venues. However, we don’t like that we were told one thing and since then five new licenses have been approved. Some venues even had objections to their proposed extension and still got it. We had none. Sadly, we just do not feel this is fair.”