Other proposals include the adoption of the "agent of change" principle.
Among the policy draft's recommendations is a pilot scheme for 4 AM closing times for nightclubs. The draft says the scheme would be implemented in city-centre venues "able to demonstrate... a positive contribution to the late-night economy [and] an investment in safety and security measures" aligned with best practice. This would, the draft goes on to say, be subject to review after a 12-month period. Clubs in Glasgow currently open till 3 AM. However, the draft rejects the possibility of granting 24-hour licenses, as the board "cannot conceive of any special events or festivals where such a request would be justified."
The draft also includes an acknowledgement of the "agent of change" principle—which places responsibility on prospective property developers for mitigating noise complaints from music venues—and a commitment to reducing single-use plastics such as straws. The document also describes music played by DJs as "an important part of the city's culture, providing one of the most popular mediums for listening to and experiencing music across the city." The draft goes on to define "DJ music," and suggests that venues must provide monitor speakers and and "an adequate soundsystem, which has been subject to acoustic room controls." The use of toughened glass to prevent injury and disfigurement has also been recommended. These points are all absent from the current policy document, first published in 2013.
Alan Miller, the chairman of the Night Time Industries Association (NTIA), told Resident Advisor: "It is indeed very good news [from] Glasgow City Council under the leadership of Cllr Susan Aitken, who has taken it upon herself to understand the key issues, tensions and benefits of nightlife and how it contributes to a city's tapestry of business, culture, tourism and quality of life for all residents through a one-time Advisory Night Time Commission on which [NTIA board member and Sub Club director] Mike Grieve, Mutley [AKA Andrew Fleming-Brown] of SWG3 and [DF Concerts CEO] Geoff Ellis participated. We continue to champion the benefits of 24-hour licensing and the need for that in order to have all of the benefits that accrue. Alongside this, having the 'agent of change' as a part of the draft and proposals is fantastic news."
"In 30-plus years in the business, I think this is the biggest opportunity I have witnessed to make significant changes to outdated licensing policy and to drag our city into the 21st century," said Grieve. He told RA his focus during the process has been establish a need for flexibility—a 3 AM closing time that works for some venues is detrimental, he says, to many others whose audiences "want to go out later and stay out later." "It's important to note that what is being suggested"—the 4 AM scheme—"is a pilot scheme. It's also important to note that previous measures touted in 'draft policy' statements have failed to get past the consultation stage, so the request for further submissions on the draft policy need to be picked up on by operators, promoters, and members of the public to convey the strong level of public opinion in favour of this major step forward."
Grahame Ward, the events programmer at La Cheetah, also speaking to RA, said: "The city and the scene in Glasgow would benefit massively from a European approach to licensing laws. [But] we don't benefit from the tourism side as other cities with a similarly vibrant scene do. This is due to clubs opening for four or five hours in most cases and smaller venues only really being able to have one or two acts on a lineup. I don't see 24-hour licences coming in anytime soon, but that's ultimately what we should be pushing for as that's what would make the real difference here. 4 AM licences are tried and tested—extensions are granted throughout the year, when major events are happening in the city (Commonwealth Games, European Championships) and over the festive period. Having it in place permanently is definitely a step in the right direction, and we'll be doing our best to get this and many other points across in the coming months."
RA has contacted Glasgow City Council for comment. Meanwhile, the public has been invited to email the licensing board at [email protected] to share their views on the draft policy.
Read Aaron Coultate's 2016 feature on the way forward for UK nightlife.