Controversial plans to allow some Aberdeen pubs to open until 3am have moved a step closer.
Councillors on the licensing board met yesterday to discuss the new policy ahead of a final decision next Tuesday.
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Under the proposals pubs would be able to open later on Fridays and Saturdays if they can meet set criteria.
The plans, contained in the licensing board’s draft policy statement, would remove the requirement for venues in the city centre to provide “significant entertainment” – such as DJs, live music or discos – to stay open until 3am.
But the idea has come under fire from the nightclub industry, amid fears of increased competition, and the NHS due to concerns raised about the health implications.
Venues will be able to apply for special dispensation to sell alcohol later for special events such as the World Cup, boxing fights and American football.
Yesterday committee convener Marie Boulton said that the market would decide how successful firms would be and it wasn’t for the council to set policies to protect nightclubs.
She was backed by committee member Freddie John who said there had been a “change of culture” in recent years with people now looking for a “different offering”.
Fellow committee member Alex McLellan added: “I don’t think we should be looking to protect any business when they can fend for themselves in the market.”
But committee member Alan Donnelly said the new policy should look to support nightclubs- especially after a move to have them open until 4am was defeated last year.
Tony Cochrane, the owner of Aberdeen’s Private Eyes, Club Tropicana and The Shack late-night venues in the city, said the move would cause serious harm and put jobs at risk.
He said: “They’ve put absolutely no thought into how this will impact the nightclub sector.
“Aberdeen City Council should pay attention to Glasgow, where they’ve recently allowed clubs to stay open until 4am to help protect the industry, which is hugely important to both our cities.
“This will create a price war, where all the clubs will try and undercut the bars and vice-versa.
“We’ve already lost Garage, Babylon, Tiger Tiger, Snafu, Origin, the Albyn, One Diamond Street and others.”