Glasgow city centre bars will be able to stay open for an extra hour under a one-year trial in a bid to boost the late-night economy.

Pubs and bars currently have to shut at midnight but a one-year pilot scheme is being launched to test 1am licences.

SNP councillors pushed for the change ahead of the city’s Licensing Board unveiling its new policy statement for the next five years. 

Published today, the statement includes the 12-month pilot for later pub opening — a move which has been welcomed by council leader Susan Aitken, who hopes it can “give many businesses a shot in the arm” following the pandemic.

The SNP group had said the extension, which it called for during consultation on the Licensing Board’s policy, could give a major lift to Glasgow’s evening economy.

If the trial is successful and the change is made permanent, it would bring Glasgow’s city centre opening times in line with Edinburgh’s.

Cllr Aitken said: “The richness, diversity and vibrancy of Glasgow’s hospitality and night-time offer is internationally recognised but there’s no doubt it’s had a tough time in recent years.

“The impact of the pandemic has been existential for many in the sector and combined with the impact of the cost-of-living crisis and rampant inflation and the very real consequences of Brexit, it’s safe to say that hospitality probably hasn’t faced a set of pressures like this in generations.

“Extending pub hours to 1am can, I hope, give many businesses a shot in the arm and encourage more people to come into the city centre in the knowledge they can in turn extend their evening out.”

She added: “A one-year pilot will allow the city and the trade to decide whether there is the market demand for an extra hour, but also if there are any impacts on public health and anti-social behaviour.”

When the SNP first called for the extension, some industry figures doubted whether it was required.

A sub-group set up by the city’s licensing forum — which includes members of the hospitality trade and is chaired by nightclub boss Donald MacLeod — reported the change “would not necessarily have the benefit of contributing to the late-night economy as there are increasing costs and staffing issues experienced by those in the public house trade”.

It added “existing transport provision and times of services within the city centre would not support an extension of terminal hours for city centre public houses to 1am”.

The Licensing Board’s policy statement outlines a list of criteria that bars applying for the 1am licence would be required to adhere to, while also urging licensees to recognise the need for staff who work late to get home safely.

This pilot scheme comes shortly after a trial of 4am licences for nightclubs in the city centre was made permanent.

Councillor Angus Millar, convener for city centre recovery, said: “Bars, along with restaurants, clubs and music venues are vital to our economy and reputation and I welcome this pilot approach, which mirrors that which took place with nightclubs.

“Staggering the dispersal of customers from different venue types over several hours rather than creating two pinch points can also have a positive impact on our ongoing engagement with transport operators to support people getting home from a night out, as well as on policing.

“Glasgow is a great place to have a distinctive and safe night out, for residents and visitors alike and I hope this move enhances that further, while boosting our reputation and the evening economy.”