TESCO has avoided a crackdown on shops selling alcohol by arguing that residents of a Scots suburb are healthy and middle class.
Edinburgh Council has introduced strict new rules on the number of off licences in the city in a bid to reduce alcohol-related ill health and crime.
But Tesco have been given the go-ahead for a new licensed shop after a lawyer argued the residents of upmarket Roseburn were “bottle of wine on the way home” drinkers.
Peter Lawson told the city’s licensing board that Roseburn, to the west of the city centre, was not a place of widespread heavy drinking.
Mr Lawson said: “Roseburn scores very highly in the index of multiple deprivation.
“If you take 1 as the most deprived and 6505 as the least, the area is 5502.”
Mr Lawson said the statistic for one of the city’s most deprived areas, Niddrie, was 44.
Mr Lawson said Roseburn residents would be more likely to buy a bottle of wine on the way home than be heavy drinking.
But he did agree to the supermarket not selling Buckfast or beer over 5.5 percent as a condition of the licence.
The council’s panel approved the plans, but were divided in opinion over the issue.
Board member Councillor Alastair Paisley said the Roseburn argument was part of the reason it was approved.
But Councillor Cammy Day, who voted against the new Tesco, said: ”I thought it was a strange argument to make, to say this is the healthiest area in the city and that’s why we should grant more licences there.
“The evidence given to this board by NHS Lothian has shows the greater the availability of alcohol, the greater the consumption. In this case there were five premises, including pubs, within 80 yards.”
The leafy suburb is popular with families and boasts the Dean Gallery, St George’s private school for girls, art shops, beauty salons and a successful independent wine shop.
The Water of Leith walkway is also accessible from the main street and it is also very popular with rugby fans for pre-drinks before descending upon Murrayfield stadium on match days.
Many of the buildings are listed, including Roseburn primary school.
Last week councillors approved a near-blanket ban on granting any additional applications, citing “over- provision” across the Capital.
Supermarkets will have to set up alcohol awareness groups and aid police in tackling underage drinking to be granted licences under strict new guidelines.
All new off-sales stores in Edinburgh will have to commit themselves to a range of measures as part of a social responsibility clause added to the application process.
Councillor Marjorie Thomas, convener of the licensing board which proposed the new guidelines, adopted this week, said last week: “Adding this clause to the licensing objectives will give our guidelines more bite. Health and social responsibility has gone up the agenda and this will ensure it stays there.”