Board accused of ‘killing’ clubs

Dundee operator blasts city councillors for hours decisions

By Dave Hunter

A PROMINENT Dundee operator claims recent changes in local licensing policy have effectively “killed” the city’s nightclubs.

Jimmy Marr, whose Park Leisure group owns Dundee nightclub The Vu as well as several pubs and bars across the city, said changes in the board’s policy governing late-night hours, coupled with the decision to allow a local casino to sell alcohol until 6am, have driven custom away from the city’s clubs.
“Fat Sams, which was the biggest nightclub in Dundee, with over a 2000 capacity, used to trade seven nights a week,” Marr told SLTN.
“Now it’s trading four hours a week.
“The Vu, my nightclub, used to trade four nights a week.
“We’re down to two nights a week, and I would think early next year there won’t be any major nightclubs left in Dundee; I think we’ll be forced to close our doors because of pubs getting late licences.”
Late last year the board announced a change in its late-night policy to create three distinct types of premises: nightclubs; premises with “substantial entertainment”; and pubs.
Clubs could apply to open until 3am on Friday and Saturday nights, with pubs allowed to open until 1am on those nights.
‘Hybrid’ premises – those with substantial entertainment – could apply to remain open until 2am.
“I just feel that the licensing system really worked well in Dundee,” said Marr.
“Pubs had twelve o’clock, nightclubs had 2.30am and everybody was quite happy.
“Then the board started giving out these licences willy-nilly.”
SLTA boss Paul Waterson said changing licensing hours has become an issue across Scotland.
“The SLTA’s position is that as long as everybody’s treated fairly and reasonably we don’t have a problem,” he said.
“But over the years we’ve seen the differential between different parts of the trade eroded.
“At one time pubs were very definitely trading at certain hours and nightclubs were trading at certain hours. Although there was a crossover of a couple of hours, over the years that couple of hours has got more and more.”
He added that 6am licences for casinos are “morally wrong, unfair and should be stopped”.
Board convenor David Bowes said: “I do feel for what Mr Marr is saying.
“It is unfortunate but we can’t take commercial issues into consideration when we are considering licence applications. We’re just not allowed to.”