Licensing chiefs have served up a 2am licence for a new £100,000 Greenock pub – despite a series of complaints from police.

Our sister newspaper The Greenock Telegraph reports that local businessman Ian Ellis bought the former Legends Bar on West Stewart Street in the summer and pledged to invest a six-figure sum on renovating the dilapidated boozer and also create around a dozen jobs.

Yesterday Inverclyde Licensing Board approved an application from Mr Ellis for a raft of changes at the new-look venue, which will be renamed Cheers Bar, including an increase in the capacity from 60 to almost 284, drinking in the beer garden until 10pm, a 2am licence from Thursday to Saturday and 1am on Sundays, and the introduction of live entertainment.

Councillors voted unanimously in favour of the changes despite a lengthy letter from Police Scotland protesting against the proposals.

There were no objections from members of the public.

A letter in the name of now-ex Chief Constable Sir Stephen House was read out at the meeting calling for the application to be rejected on the grounds that it falls outwith the Inverclyde licensing policy, preventing crime, disorder and public nuisance, and to protect public health.

But veteran licensing solicitor Bill Tomlinson, acting on behalf of Mr Ellis, reassured the board that the premises would be well run.

Mr Tomlinson said: “It would be a benefit to have these premises revamped and have some new life breathed into them.”

The previous premises licence for Legends – a 1am opening Thursday to Saturday, midnight on Sundays and a capacity of 60 people – had already been transferred to the new owner shortly after the sale of the pub was concluded earlier this year, and police called for those arrangements to remain in place.

In their letter, the police argued that the extended opening hours were outwith board policy, while the level of live entertainment proposed for the bar was called into question.

Concerns were raised about the potential for increased noise and disorder for nearby residents as a result of the increase in the capacity of the venue and the new beer garden.

The board also heard that officers responded to 66 ‘alcohol-related’ incidents in the area in recent times, including 12 this year alone.

Inspector Damian Kane, from Greenock police station, said: “We have concerns about the extended hours and the increased footfall.

“An almost fivefold increase in patrons (is being proposed).

“I have 16 years of experience and my professional view is this will have an impact.”

Insp Kane argued it would be ‘quite naive’ to think people would move on from outside the pub quickly after closing time.

Solicitor Mr Tomlinson replied that it was unfair to suggest there would be any crime, disorder or noise when the pub hasn’t even opened.

He added: “No matter how well you run the premises, if people are determined to cause trouble outside the premises then you’re not their keeper any more.

The board also gave the nod for the reintroduction of a bar in the upstairs lounge and approved the use of the space for receptions and private functions such as weddings, funerals and birthdays, and for Cheers to have an off-sales licence.   

Cllr Martin Brennan moved for approval of the application and was backed unanimously by his colleagues, but with the condition that there is a restriction on public access to private functions.

Board chairman Ronnie Ahlfeld said: “The board considered the application in great detail and we took cognisance of the fact there were no public objections to this.”