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Break with Highlands tradition slammed by Westminster candidate

By Donna MacAllister

Dr Donald Boyd
Dr Donald Boyd

The leader of the Scottish Christian Party in Inverness has slammed the licensing board for breaking "Highland tradition" by allowing an American-style diner to let children under 12 into the licensed premises unaccompanied.

Dr Donald Boyd said it was a disappointing step in the wrong direction - but Highland Council’s licensing standards officer Ian Cox - a former policeman - has no problem with children under 12 having a burger in the 1950’s-themed venue without their parents.

Eds Easy Diner is set to open at the Eastgate Shopping Centre in Inverness serving burgers, hotdogs and maple-syrup waffles and other All American meals that can washed down with alcoholic milkshakes.

The chain - the UK’s fastest-growing according to reports last year - got the green light to serve alcohol earlier this week.

The manager had wanted an off-sales licence to sell the Baileys or rum-infused alco-shakes in plastic containers for customers to take away and drink on the High Street.

But the bid was dropped when committee clerk Alasdair Mackenzie pointed out that the area is covered by a public drinking bylaw.

Solicitor Lorna Murray said her client knew it was not "Highland tradition" for a licensed restaurant to allow children to dine without their parents but Eds would be a "safe environment".

She said: "It certainly does attract children of around the age of 12 and my client’s experience is that sometimes these children will come in without an adult or guardian present and management are concerned in relation to the 12-year age limit as to how to judge when children are possibly just below or around that age."

The committee clerk Alasdair Mackenzie urged members to hear Mr Cox’s view before making a decision.

Mr Cox said: "Having had a look at the premises myself my own opinion is if children were in there under that age I don’t think there would be a problem because it is ostensibly a burger bar that offers food which will be popular with young children.

"I think the way that the alcohol side of this business is going to be purveyed is in a very understated way and in a themed way which compliments the Americanised food theme rather than be a figment which is manifest in the trading."

Dr Boyd, who is contesting for the Inverness, Nairn, Badenoch and Strathspey seat in the Westminster election, said: "Children are being targeted in so many ways that the Scottish Christian Party aims to restore innocency to childhood, both in school and in the market. It demonstrates the need for Christian politics to take a stand where others are unwilling to do so."

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