Late-night sector faces an uphill battle as clubs open later

THE recovery of Glasgow’s night-time sector still has ‘a long way to go’, as city centre clubs are granted permanent later opening hours. 

A pilot scheme was launched in the city in 2019, allowing participating clubs to remain open until 4am. 

At a recent meeting of the licensing board, the later hours were made permanent, with ten clubs in the city now able to open until 4am. 

However, club owner Donald MacLeod, who owns city centre nightclubs The Cathouse and The Garage, said the sector remains embattled by rising costs, squeezed incomes and a lack of late-night transportation. 

The Garage in Glasgow

“I’m happy that they’ve ratified (the 4am closing),” MacLeod told SLTN. 

“But I’m not surprised that not everybody took them up on it. You’re not making any more money during that extra hour. The whole idea is to improve the egress. To make sure it was more manageable, rather than everybody piling out on the street at three o’clock. But unfortunately with the cost of living crisis and the (low emission zone) having an impact, Glasgow has a long way to go to get its night-time recovery together. 

“We’re miles behind a lot of places down south. We can only be hopeful that in the run up to Christmas the landscape improves.”

MacLeod called on governments at Holyrood and Westminster to help the sector with business rates and VAT assistance, respectively. 

“One thing that would really help from Westminster would be a VAT reduction, which we’ve been calling for for a long time,” he said. “But from the Scottish Government, a rates relief package like they had in England would go a long way towards restoring some confidence in the market.”

Announcing the decision on the 4am closing time, a spokesman for the licensing board said: “It was agreed to extend the pilot to allow as full an understanding as possible of the impact of extending opening hours for the ten clubs involved in the scheme, which was available to licence holders who could demonstrate a high standard of operation.

“The licensing board has now considered the impact of the pilot, hearing a range of views from operators, police, licensing standards officers and health. 

“During the various submissions made to the board, it was heard that operators welcomed the longer opening hours, that police found 4am closing had no impact on crime and licensing standards officers received no additional complaints in respect of the scheme. As a result, the board was content to make 4am closing a permanent condition of the licences of all ten clubs involved in the pilot.”

They added that the board will now be looking at opening hours for ‘all premises across the city’.