Key figures meet to discuss Glasgow city centre's 4am license plans

Key figures meet to discuss Glasgow city centre's 4am license plans

Night Time Industries Association (NTIA) event encourages conversations on the future of Glasgow's nightlife

At a public facing event hosted by the Night Time Industries Association (NTIA) last week, the question of Glasgow's position as a true hub of nightlife in the UK was raised a number of times. 'What makes a great city?' NTIA Chairman Alan Miller asked in his opening address, underlining how the night time economy benefits regeneration, tourism and cultural contribution on the whole.

The NTIA's 'Future of Glasgow Nightlife' event aimed to address many of the issues currently being faced by the city's night time industries in an open forum, generating ideas from the wider NTE community in Glasgow and around Scotland. But this event was also in part a response to new proposals recently put forward by Glasgow's Licensing Board, which would mean that late-night entertainment venues in the city could be allowed to stay open until 4am. With the public consultation under way and set to close on Fri 5 Oct, there has been much discussion around the potential benefits that this could bring to Glasgow's night time economy, which at present generates £2.16bn a year, supporting 16,000 jobs in the process.

The evening event included keynote speeches from Susan Aitken, leader of Glasgow City Council and Stephen McGowan of licensing lawyers TLT, which were followed by a panel discussion and Q&A, hosted and moderated by author and broadcaster Stuart Cosgrove. The panel, which featured Aitken, Geoff Ellis (DF Concerts/King Tuts), Richie Adams (Police Scotland), Mike Grieve (Sub Club) and Nicola Marie Johnston (Aberdeen NTE), offered useful insights into how a 4am license could impact the city while also giving a wider picture of how the success of our night time economy depends not just on those directly involved, but a partnership between the public, the council and the police.

Mike Grieve noted that Glasgow's nightlife has a 'hard earned reputation and has outperformed many similar sized cities', adding that the 4am license plans could provide an 'opportunity to galvanise the process'. For Richie Adams, when it comes to the policing of nightclubs, 'safety and partnership is key', and Nicola Nicola Marie Johnston noted that Aberdeen has had great success in terms of the partnership between the night time industries and the police.

Key figures meet to discuss Glasgow city centre's 4am license plans

Alan Miller (centre) with the panel

Many on the panel, however, agreed that there was a widespread anxiety that remained around nightclubs, with Nicola mentioning the 'culture of fear' and the 'negative perception of clubs'. Geoff Ellis spoke about his experiences with the Licensing Board in the organisation of TRNSMT, emphasising that the 'council has to have an attitude of positivity and support' for things to truly progress and certainly, Susan was keen to assert her desire to help Glasgow's night time economy flourish.

Still, large questions remain which need to be considered by both the Licensing Board and all involved. Would staggered licensing be a better idea overall? And should our attitudes to drug policing change since the zero tolerance policy clearly doesn't work? Also, what about clubs beyond the city limits that may lose out if licensing changes are made, merely due to geography?

Speaking after the event, Alan Miller commented:

'Glasgow is a city that is renowned internationally and much loved and recognised as a place where music and nightlife has played an immensely important part of its identity. However, we have had serious blows in the past few years with closures, limits and some attitudes that wanted to go backwards rather than forwards. Fortunately, that is all changing very quickly now.

The NTIA is dedicated to working with all key stakeholders in true partnership – to openly discuss all the key issues that face us. Nightlife is part of the 24-hour cycle of a city in all its aspects – so licensing and planning are key parts, but so too are transportation, housing, policing, retail and economic strategy. Our discussions with Council Leader Susan Aitken have been productive and fruitful as have those with Superintendent Richie Adams and our goal is to ensure that we have an ongoing well informed commission-style group that can work together to ensure Glasgow's future as a truly global city.'

A 2015 report commissioned by the Night Time Industries Association (NTIA) states that the UK's night-time economy is 'worth £66 billion, amounting to nearly 6% of the UK's GDP, employing 1.3 million people'. The overall consensus on the panel was that Glasgow could and should take advantage of this to a greater degree and clubs need to be seen as cultural spaces, a point that isn't necessarily translated across the board. The change in the licensing plans are dependent on a changing rhetoric but any growth has to be inclusive too, so that the benefits extend to those in every part of the city.

Find out more about the public consultation on the proposed extension of opening hours in Glasgow. To join the fight to save our nightlife, visit savenightlife.com and sign the petition that goes directly to your local councillor.

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