A district judge has accused a council of bringing “the iron curtain clanging down” by not granting an alcohol licence to Scottish brewer and bar operator BrewDog, even though the venue sits in a 'saturation zone', writes Gurjit Degun. The judge said BrewDog, which was seeking a licence in Leeds, "attracts more discerning customers who do not engage in binge drinking". The city centre has a Cumulative Impact Policy (CIP), also known as a saturation zone; operators have traditionally found it difficult to secure a licence in these areas. District judge Anderson explained that there are a number of bars in the area attracting “regular disorder and violence” and “attracting a different sort of customer”. He said: “It cannot be the policy of the CIP to bring the iron curtain clanging down to allow such clubs to continue to trade while shutting out BrewDog which attracts more discerning customers who do not engage in binge drinking, though I do accept the requirement of the CIP is to ascertain specifically whether there will be impact.” Anderson added: “Their (the police) argument that customers could get caught up in a melee caused by others is not a valid one. A simple increase in footfall isn’t a rational reason to refuse entry.” He accused the council and police of being “too rigid” with the policy. He said: “They seemed to take the view that man was made for the policy, when the policy should be made for man.” BrewDog area manager Neil Taylor said: “We’re delighted with the outcome, it was a long time coming. The idea of CIP does make sense but we’re proposing to offer something unique (and educate people about beer).” The operator, which runs 10 sites around the UK, submitted the licence application in December 2011. Anthony Lyons of Kuits, BrewDog’s solicitor, said: “It will make local authorities think twice about whether to implement such policies without flexibility.” Licensing lawyer Jonathan Smith of Poppleston Allen added: “The decision in this case highlights a rare victory for operators and the burden they face being within stress/cumulative impact areas and suggests there is some light at the end of the tunnel for good operators looking to start a business in areas within a council’s CIP.”