Tavern falls foul of drink law problem

IN the first case of its type in Perth, Mt Lawley’s Flying Scotsman tavern has been issued with a $1,000 fine for allowing patrons to drink in its al-fresco area without buying a substantial meal.

The Flying Scotsman operates an extended trading permit that allows it to utilise public footpath space as an alfresco area for its premises.

To do this the tavern has an alfresco permit from the Town of Vincent, however, the council’s alfresco dining policy does not state a meal must be consumed with alcohol.

It is the director of liquor licensing, Hugh Highman, that stipulates the condition.

This is not a new element to the permits. It is just that, until now, no one has been hauled before the liquor licensing courts and issued with a fine.

For Flying Scotsman proprietor Chris Vivian, who has operated the alfresco area without concern for the permit condition since 1995, the enforcement leaves him with confused and frustrated customers.

“It [the alfresco area] has been in operation since 1995 and nobody has ever questioned or taken any notice of it,” he said.

“It has always been accepted by the public that you can sit outside and have a drink.

“It’s hard to explain that they can’t unless they buy a meal because they think we’re trying to build up our food trade.”

Mr Vivian said he would be making attempts to have his permit altered. 

“All we can do is vary the alfresco dining permit to allow people to drink outside without purchasing a meal,” he said.

“It’s ridiculous. If you go down to Fremantle on a Saturday afternoon there are people drinking at tables up and down that [cafe] strip.”

Mr Vivian, while the first to be fined, is not the first to apply to the director of liquor licensing for a change in the permit.

Mr Highman said a number of taverns had been applying to have the right to sell alcohol without a meal.

Freehills partner Tony van Merwyk said he was representing a number of proprietors dealing with similar issues and believed changes need to take place before the bustling summer trade began.

Mr Highman said the condition was not imposed on all tavern licensees, rather it was applied to those premises that encroached on public areas.

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