A WEST FIFE councillor has blasted the decision to increase opening hours in pubs and clubs for a full month during this year’s festive season.

Gerry McMullan said the extension to 1am on all days of the week for many premises means extra boozing will have a negative effect on both policing the town centre and on young people’s health.

Members of Fife’s Licensing Board recently approved a general on-sales extension until 1am between 3rd December and 3rd January.

This means that premises that currently enjoy a 1am extension on some days of the week (usually Fridays and Saturdays) are entitled to a 1am ‘terminal’ hour on all days during this period.

Those premises which currently have until 2am or 3am on specified days can have until 1am on all other days if not already enjoyed.

Mr McMullan said, “I would have no real problems if it was for a few days before Christmas but this is for a four-week period in what is a young market and it’s young people who are being targeted.

“This decision is not paying attention to health issues, which are appalling in West Fife and which put a strain on policing, the health board and drug and alcohol support groups.

“A few years ago West Fife came second only to Glasgow as the area having the highest alcohol and drug abuse in Scotland.

"I don’t see any improvement from that. We are at a critical situation not just in Scotland but in West Fife. "They should be pro-active about changing people’s attitudes.

"They are saying one thing for 40-50 weeks of the year then letting it go for the last four.” Mr McMullan, who has been a member of the Fife Licensing Board in the past, added that any future comments on health issues by councillors who helped pass the decision should be “taken with a pinch of salt”.

However, Fife Licensing Board members accepted that an extension of such hours for a similar period last year worked well.

A spokesperson for Fife Constabulary said, “It would be fair to say that we recognise there is additional hospitality during the festive period and provided licence holders and customers act responsibly there should be no issues.” A spokesperson for NHS Fife said, “The festive period will see people enjoying the season with family and friends.

"However, NHS Fife would remind everyone that it is important to know alcohol limits and keep count of alcohol units. “Space your alcoholic drinks and have soft drinks in between. Look after each other, stay safe and if you are going out, have a plan for getting home, order a taxi or have a designated driver.” What do you think? Vote now in our online poll.