A KELTY pub owner has dismissed any suggestion that they didn't take public health seriously after their beer garden was forced to close after just one day.

Asif Hussain confirmed that the outside drinking area at The Kings, on Main Street, had opened on Monday but could not operate on Tuesday after police intervention.

Criticism that the pub had been "putting people at risk of COVID-19" followed but he said it was down to a licensing mix-up and they had gone "above and beyond" to keep customers and staff safe.

Mr Hussain said: "When the staff found out, they were in tears as they'd done all that hard work and had a great Monday, seeing customers they hadn't seen for months.

"It's a community bar, it's been involved in supporting the provision of meals for locals through lockdown, so we were very saddened to hear some of the negative comments.

"Rumours we put anyone at risk are totally untrue."

He added: "The irony is we invited the LSO (Fife Council's licensing standards officer) to pop in on Monday to show him the extent we had gone to as we were really confident in the measures we had taken.

"Our local MSP, Alex Rowley, was at the venue too and complimented us on a great job.

"We weren't trying to do anything untoward, it was more of a misunderstanding, but the main frustration is we put in the licensing application to Fife Council six months ago and it was never dealt with.

"This could all have been avoided and all that hard work wouldn't have gone to waste."

The pub owner said they had made a "great investment" and carried out risk assessments to get the beer garden ready with a large canopy to ensure the operation would be all-weather.

Entry was by ticket only, male and female toilets were installed – "which we weren't obligated to do" – and there was a regular cleaning regime with temperature checks for customers and name and address details taken, for possible test and trace purposes, social distancing markers were in place and staff had face visors and Personal Protective Equipment (PPE).

Mr Hussain said the issue was flagged up after the police asked to see their CCTV to help with an unrelated incident in the early hours of Tuesday morning.

He said: "The person had apparently been at our premises some hours before and that's the only reason it came to police attention. We could have gone through the whole week none the wiser.

"They had checked and found we didn't have an occasional licence.

"We had applied for a major variation to our licence in January and every licensing board meeting it was meant to be heard at, even those prior to lockdown, was cancelled.

"Yes, we should have dotted the i's and crossed the t's but we assumed we were fine, otherwise we would have applied for an occasional licence.

"The LSO was great and said he'd try and help us turn it round as quickly as possible but it has to be advertised for seven days and it seems pointless as this would take us past the date pubs are going to open anyway."

Police Scotland confirmed the pub was closed due to a licensing issue rather than anything to do with COVID-19. 

Mr Hussain had been told in a letter his application was set to go before the licensing board meeting in February but it was not on the agenda. 

Fife Council said that meeting did take place and only the board meetings from March onwards have not gone ahead. 

They confirmed that the board does have an application for a major variation to the premises licence of the Kings in Kelty to allow an area to be used for outdoor drinking. 

A spokesperson for the council said: "Whilst no meetings of the board have been able to take place since the start of the lockdown, once the Scottish Government indicated that outdoor areas could reopen, the board has accepted and processed applications for occasional licences from premises that wish to use their outdoor areas allowing them to trade from Monday July 6.

"The Kings has not applied for an occasional licence."