DONALD MACLEOD

The Sunday Post (Newcastle) - - NEWS -

Af­ter

months of gloom and un­cer­tainty, Glas­gow had two rea­sons to feel more up­beat and cheer­ful this week.

Firstly, the dis­rup­tion and up­heaval caused by the £7 mil­lion re­gen­er­a­tive but chaotic road­works that for too long has blighted the length and breadth of Sauchiehall Street, the city’s en­ter­tain­ment mile, seem fi­nally to be com­ing to an end.

The road has been nar­rowed, wider pave­ments have all but been laid, dou­ble cy­cle lanes have been in­stalled and 20ft tall trees again now grace the av­enue.

With all but a small sec­tion of works still to be com­pleted at the Char­ing Cross end, it will soon be pos­si­ble to tra­verse this iconic street from one end to an­other with­out fall­ing into a muddy hole.

Not quite in a straight line, I ad­mit, as there is still a tight se­cu­rity cor­don in place, and will be for some time, where the ABC and Cam­pus once proudly stood be­fore they were both gut­ted by the fire which also de­stroyed The Glas­gow School of Art.

But even here, es­pe­cially in the Gar­nethill area, there are some en­cour­ag­ing signs that life for a few be­lea­guered traders and res­i­dents is slowly re­turn­ing to nor­mal.

As sur­round­ing streets are once again made ac­ces­si­ble and com­merce re­sumes – too late for many, though, who have sadly lost ev­ery­thing they once held dear.

I can only hope that the pow­ers that be do ev­ery­thing they can, fi­nan­cially and more, to ease their suf­fer­ing.

They could start by re­leas­ing of the rest of the £2.5 mil­lion emer­gency re­lief fund that is still ly­ing in a bank ac­count, un­used.

Still, the fin­ish­ing of the road­works is a cause for cel­e­bra­tion for the city.

I hope all Glaswe­gians, not just the lo­cal traders, res­i­dents and vis­i­tors, will think it has been money well spent, and ul­ti­mately some­thing to be proud off. Time will tell.

Both the fires and the end­ing of the works now present the city fa­thers with a golden op­por­tu­nity to boost this whole area, es­pe­cially within the night-time econ­omy.

Which takes me to my sec­ond rea­son for cel­e­bra­tion. In what can only be de­scribed as a bold and imag­i­na­tive

de­ci­sion, one that I have fought hard for over re­cent months, Glas­gow Li­cens­ing Board have de­cided to rad­i­cally over­haul their pol­icy on late-night ex­ten­sion of hours.

They have an­nounced a one-year pi­lot scheme to al­low some city cen­tre night­clubs, those who meet their strin­gent pub­lic safety, se­cu­rity, ser­vice, staff train­ing and first aid con­di­tions, and are mem­bers of ac­cred­ited safety schemes, will be al­lowed to trade for an ex­tra hour, un­til 4am and on oc­ca­sion 5am.

In other words, premises which look af­ter their cus­tomers and staff, not just their tills.

Safe and se­cure premises whose run­ning and op­er­at­ing costs are higher than any late pub or bar, costs that are only ever cov­ered by door money.

Th­ese are premises that are well run, well-staffed and in some cases, like The Garage – which I own – are world­fa­mous and mag­nets for night­time tourists.

How­ever, there are premises, in other Scot­tish towns and cities, whose very ex­is­tence is put un­der threat by those ir­re­spon­si­ble boards (Aberdeen, for ex­am­ple) who grant ex­tra hours to any­one with a li­cence and who use cheap drink as their only in­cen­tive.

Glas­gow’s is a bold and imag­i­na­tive pi­lot scheme that I fully sup­port and am sure will be a suc­cess.

Not just for me, my busi­ness, and the city of Glas­gow, but a suc­cess that will hope­fully in­spire the Scot­tish Govern­ment to bring all li­cens­ing boards into line and force them to act more re­spon­si­bly in­stead of just the li­censee.

Sauchiehall Street in 1950s hey­day, right, road closed af­ter art school fire, above

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