Published: 20/11/2012 15:03 - Updated: 20/11/2012 15:09

Clubs curfew to come back for Christmas?

Written byBy Hugh Ross

Bar curfew time.A FESTIVE return of the recently axed midnight door entry rule in Inverness could be on the cards – if nightclubs want to counter competition from longer pub opening hours.

Licensing chiefs will invite late night venue owners to outline their door entry arrangments next month, following the scrapping of the midnight curfew rule.

A brief hearing was held in Inverness this morning by the Highland Licensing Board which agreed to hold the premises licence reviews for the 13 venues in Inverness, Aviemore, Thurso and Dingwall affected.

The seven-minute meeting saw councillors approve a proposal to host the hearings on 18th December so the curfew - which barred customers from entry into nightspots after midnight – can be formally abolished.

It has already been dropped in Inverness after the board axed the controversial policy at the start of the month.

Owners were told no action would be taken against them if they removed the rule even though the curfew still technically applies, but the hearing next month will formally consign it to history.

But Councillor Maxine Smith, the board’s chairwoman, said a temporary festive return of the curfew was a possibility because pubs can apply to remain open until 2am during Christmas and New Year.

That could see night clubs lose out on customers because the pubs are open for longer and a curfew could be one method employed to ensure patrons come in through their doors.

“It could be an anomaly,” said Councillor Smith.

Late night venues could still impose a voluntary curfew specific to their premises if they wished but Councillor Smith was hopeful owners would fully comply with the policy change, particularly given the public support for the decision as 2000 people signed a petition seeking its removal.

“I don’t think it would be popular if they did,” said Councillor Smith. “I think they could be looking at other ways to get people through their doors.”

The curfew had been in place for almost a decade but a successful public campaign saw it dropped in a dramatic board hearing earlier this month as Councillor Smith plumped for its removal after councillors were tied in the vote.

Northern Constabulary had claimed the curfew’s demise would lead to more crime and anti-social behaviour but critics claimed it had restricted revellers’ movement on nights out.

*Inverness nightspots Johnny Foxes, The Den, Vinyl and Play, Hush, Miami, the Karma Lounge, Cake, Hootannanny and the Ironworks all had curfews.

Aviemore’s The Vault and Winking Owl and the Newmarket Bar and Skinandi’s Nightclub in Thurso will also be reviewed, as will The Picture House on Dingwall’s High Street.

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