HEALTH bosses highlighted the quarter of 15-year-olds in Inverclyde admitting to drinking alcohol to try and thwart a restaurant's outdoor seating bid.

The issue was brought up at a meeting of the licensing board as councillors considered an application from Fenwick 47 in Greenock to, amongst other things, put tables and chairs outside and serve customers food and drink.

An objection was lodged by Inverclyde Health and Social Care Partnership (HSCP).

The application from the West Blackhall Street restaurant also included a raft of other alterations, including extended bar hours; earlier opening to serve breakfast and hot drinks; permission to host events such as weddings, funerals and birthday parties outwith core licensing hours; and minor changes to allow children and young people near the bar area for the purpose of consuming a meal or attending a function.

In a letter to the board, the HSCP said: "Whilst it is recognised that patrons may come from across Inverclyde, these premises are located in Greenock west and central which has both high levels of alcohol-related brain damage and higher than average alcohol-related deaths and borders Greenock town centre and east central which has the poorest alcohol-related health within Inverclyde. "Children are heavily influenced by the behaviour of trusted adults and the national Scottish Schools Adolescent Lifestyle and Substance Use (SALSUS) survey of school pupils showed that in 2013 amongst 15-year-olds in Inverclyde, 24 per cent had drunk alcohol at least once in the previous week - an increase of 10 per cent in the previous three years."

Health bosses asked for limitations to when young people are allowed in the premises and for 'appropriate seating' away from the bar.

Police chief superintendent, Gordon Crossan, also wrote to the board about the application and made several requests, including that outdoor drinking ends at 9pm to reduce the likelihood of noise and anti-social behaviour.

The applicants agreed to all bar one of the suggestions, which was for plastic containers to be used outside instead of glass.

During the meeting, councillors raised concerns about the extent of the live music offering, the impact the outdoor seating area would have on the existing pavement space, particularly for those in wheelchairs, scooters or with prams.

They were all satisfied with the assurances given by Fenwick's lawyer Stephen McGowan, partner of Glasgow-based TLT Solicitors, who was accompanied by restaurant owner Joseph White, of Greenock-based WBI Group.

Mr McGowan said: "The idea is to make it a more family-friendly dining experience."

After a private hearing, the application was approved unanimously by the board.

The outdoor seating area is still subject to planning consent but would see five tables on the street.

Mr McGowan described the rest of the application as simply a 'tidy up' exercise.