Coronavirus: ‘Does Nicola Sturgeon hate pubs and clubs?’

Donald MacleodImage copyright
Hold Fast Entertainment

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Donald Macleod says thousands of jobs are at risk if the Scottish government does not help the night-time economy

One of Glasgow’s biggest nightclub operators is demanding urgent help to save jobs in the night-time economy.

Donald Macleod is asking Nicola Sturgeon to “let us know if you hate pubs and clubs” as he calls for cash ahead of the winding down of the jobs retention scheme.

The Garage and Cathouse owner says the Scottish government has “unfairly” championed elite organisations.

The Scottish government said nightclubs involved prolonged close contact.

It said this increased the chance of infection spreading. A spokesman also said the UK government should extend the furlough scheme.

Mr Macleod believes the end of furlough will “ruin people’s lives”.

He told BBC Radio’s Good Morning Scotland programme: “Certainly there has been no help coming from the Scottish government to the night-time economy.

“Across Scotland, the night-time economy is responsible for 75,000 jobs and it generates £5.5bn a year in Glasgow alone.

“Glasgow is the city of music and the city of culture. We have 200 businesses relying on it annually and thousands of employees.”

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Mr Macleod believes his industry has been treated unfairly by the Scottish government and said that Nicola Sturgeon should “let us know if you hate pubs and clubs” because of the perceived lack of support from the government.

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The Garage

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The Garage called on its patrons to put pressure on the Scottish government

“You are seeing millions being given in grants to what I would call the ‘elite’, the theatre organisations, like the Tron getting £1.3m,” he said.

“It’s a 240-capacity venue. What is it spending its money on?”

The businessman, who is also convenor of the Glasgow Licensing Forum, praised the Jobs Retention Scheme which has allowed many of his employees to stay on the payroll but said there has been little more in the way of support for his industry.

‘Stop playing politics’

He said: “We are getting nothing, we are being promised nothing. If you are a grassroots music venue you might get something. The Garage and the Cathouse might qualify for that, that is still to be seen.

“Personally, I have 160 employees and no money coming in the door. Furlough starts to wind down and suddenly on 1 Sept I have to contribute 10%, then it goes to 20%. That means £27,000-£30,000 a month.

“The Scottish government have got to stop playing politics and get on with supporting the economy. They do have the money and would be able to help us. They have certainly got the money to save theatres.”

A week ago, Scotland’s Night-Time Industries Association (SNTIA) released details of a survey it carried out with its members.

The poll found that 83% of businesses were preparing to make staff redundant, with 76% of businesses set to cut more than half of their workforce in a matter of weeks.

It also showed that 58% of night-time businesses feared they would not survive longer than two months without further government support.

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Hundreds of jobs have already been cut at the Scottish Events Campus which includes the Armadillo and the SSE Hydro

It said the night-time economy was one of the few remaining sectors without any clear roadmap on when, and how it could reopen.

On the same day, up to 500 catering workers at Glasgow’s Scottish Events Campus (SEC) were told they would be made redundant.

Mr Macleod said: “If you are going to shut a business down it is incumbent on a government that is closing you down that they then look after it and we are not being looked after.

“We cannot have these people going on the dole. You can’t ruin their lives like that.”

A spokesman for the Scottish government said it was aware of the difficulties for nightclubs and the impact on people’s livelihoods.

‘Follow German example’

He said that clubs must remain closed as they involved prolonged close social contact which increased the chance of infection spreading.

He added: “Our total package for businesses during this unprecedented economic crisis now totals £2.3bn, and we agree with Scottish businesses who are warning of the risks of not extending financial support.

“However, it is the UK government which is set to withdraw furlough support in October, putting many thousands of jobs at risk.”

The Scottish government wants Westminster to follow the example of countries such as Germany by extending furlough or at least to transfer financial powers to Scotland so that it can “take necessary action here”.

BBC News