FRESH restrictions placed upon the city in recent days are a reminder to us all that the threat from coronavirus has not abated and that unfortunately life as normal has not yet returned.

The lack of that sense of normality is especially seen in those industries that are still under the very strictest of government imposed orders to remain completely closed to the public.

Last month the operators of nightclubs, live music venues and late night bars in Scotland warned of “financial armageddon” without additional measures of support, with a survey conducted by the Night-Time Industries Association Scotland (NTIAS) revealing that some 58% of businesses in the sector fear that they will not survive longer than two months without additional Government support.

With the night time economy supporting over 16,000 jobs in Glasgow and contributing over £2billion to the city’s economy it’s vital that the industry is saved and it’s the responsibility of all levels of government to work together towards that aim.

The UK Government’s ‘Eat out to Help out’ scheme resulted in six million meals being discounted through the month of August and, combined with a targeted 15% VAT cut, has really helped to reinvigorate the hospitality industry and stimulate economic growth.

In addition more than a million jobs have been preserved by the furlough scheme and plans are well under way to sustain that employment through the job retention bonus.

At a council level, I have been pressuring officials and the administration to do more to support the night time economy. As a member of the Licensing Board I’m proud to have voted in favour of proposals last week to extend the temporary arrangements for the granting of occasional licenses for outdoor areas of licensed premises which were due to expire at the end of the month. The Board also agreed to the introduction of a temporary minor variation process to allow nightclub premises to be repurposed into bars without the usual lengthy statutory consultation process and associated fee.

Despite these promising steps, I know that those who work in the night time economy need us to go much further. That is why at a meeting of the full council this week I will be asking the leader of the council what engagement she has had with the Scottish Government regarding the sector.

I shared the disappointment of many in the industry that consequential funding from the package of support announced for England was not immediately dispersed to businesses in Scotland. Unfortunately it took Nicola Sturgeon seven weeks to announce emergency cash for comedy venues and nightclubs and my party has raised concerns that the full £97million which was passed to the Scottish Government from Westminster still has not been allocated.

That money is designed to save jobs and support our local businesses, not sit in Scottish Government coffers for months on end.

This city’s night time venues are not only a key driver of economic growth but also a major part of our international appeal as a thriving centre of arts, culture and music.

At a time when health restrictions continue to mean that large parts of the sector are forced to remain closed, it is incumbent on all layers of government to do our utmost to support businesses affected.

I’m not scared to call out members of my own party where I think they should be going further, and I hope that SNP councillors are willing to do likewise where they feel the level of support being offered by their colleagues at Holyrood does not match the ambition we have for the city.