GLASGOW could become the first city in Scotland to allow city centre clubs and late night venues to stay open until 4am.

City licensing chiefs hope longer opening hours could further boost the city’s lucrative night-time economy, which already generates £2.6billion annually and supports some 16,600 jobs.

Venues would be considered for the later hours if the licence holder can prove they have prioritised public safety, securing gold status or above in the Best Bar None scheme.

Club owners say current licensing policy is “restrictive” and it is hoped adopting a more European approach to opening hours could help curb the rush to consume alcohol, “which then spills onto city centre streets." at weekends.

Read more: Glasgow pubs and clubs to open for extra hour during European Championships 

However, Paul Waterson, of the Scottish Licensed Trade Association said later opening hours was 'not the way to go' and instead called for greater differentiation between licences awarded to pubs and clubs.

Police Scotland said it would consider the consultation proposals carefully before responding.

Under the plans, 16 and 17-year-olds could also be allowed to remain in licensed premises until 11pm, which could benefit teenagers attending gigs in the city centre and eating out with family.

Off-sales could also face added scrutiny for license applications if they are located in areas of the city where there are found to be high levels of alcohol-related crime or health problems.

Councillor Matt Kerr, chairman of Glasgow Licensing Board said: “By potentially granting licences until 4am while demanding the highest possible standards from licence holders we are striking the right balance between the licence trade and the needs of the wider community.

“There’s a strong view that a more European approach would avoid the rush to consume alcohol before closing time that then spills out on to our city centre streets.

Read more: Glasgow nightclub named best in Scotland 

“It’s very important to stress that this is still a proposal."

Applications would be reviewed annually to ensure venues adhered to the strict criteria.

Donald Macleod, Convenor of Glasgow Licensing Forum and Director of CPL which runs the Garage nightclub, welcomed the plan, saying it would help differentiate venues which invest heavily in customers safety.

He said: “There’s a lot of hybrid bars out there with 3 o’clocks, which serve a purpose but they are not investing in the same criteria of health and safety as clubs such as CCTV provision.

“It would be incumbent on the council to make sure that only owners who demonstrate good practice would qualify.

“I am very clear if they start giving extra opening hours to pubs who don’t adhere to standards then I would be totally against it.

“It’s been recognised by almost everyone that there is a restrictive licensing practices in the past in Glasgow. We want to compete with other cities in Europe. 

“However, Glasgow is not Barcelona, it’s not Berlin. Glasgow has its own problems associated with alcohol as we are well aware.

"It’s about getting a balance, to keep the city open for those who demonstrate the standards."

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However, the plan has not been so warmly received by Paul Waterson of the Scottish Licensed Trade Association.

He said: "There used to be three separate licenses, there was one for restaurants, one for pubs and one for clubs.

"Under the new act there was just one licence and the differentials have been eroded. 

"Consequently we have got ourselves into a right mess in terms of what a pub is and what's a club.

"We don't see why places should be open until 4am. 

"We would rather keep the disciplines between the three types of venue because they ran completely differently.

"We fully support Best Bar None and believe venues should be rewarded for gold status but we don't think this is the right way to do it."

Other plans on the table include encouraging the use of the ‘Ask for Angela’ scheme, which allows vulnerable customers to seek a safe place with assistance from premise’s staff. 

Stuart Patrick, chief executive of Glasgow Chamber of Commerce, said: “Operating in a similar way to our European counterparts by adding an hour extra to opening times of pubs, bars and clubs across the city opens avenues for increased success within the industry."

The plans have also been welcomed by Glasgow Taxis, which operates marshalled Nightzone ranks in the city centre.

Stephen Flynn, chairman of Glasgow Taxis, said: “Glasgow Taxis remains the safest way for people to get home at the end of a night out and that will continue to be the case even if opening hours change.”

Anthony Vezza, group managing director of recruitment specialists Primestaff, warned that longer opening hours could have a bearing on staff in the service industry.

He said: “We would hope that extended opening hours will mean greater flexibility in shift patterns, and that employers will continue to ensure the safe passage home of staff working until the early hours of the morning. 

“But overall these proposals seem to be a positive step for the city and those who work there.”