Club boss in licence broadside

Base nightclub, Baker Street, Hawick
Base nightclub, Baker Street, Hawick

Nightclub owner Neil Gillies has thrown the spotlight on what he claims is the “scaremongering” he faces when applying for a licence extension.

The Baker Street businessman, whose Base venue was chosen by police for a top safety award in 2014, told Monday night’s community council meeting that the licensing board’s stance is putting his business and people’s jobs at risk and does not reflect the reality of the behaviour of revellers in the town.

Mr Gillies, who has run the club for almost 20 years, said: “I made two applications over the festive period, one on Boxing Day and one on Hogmanay. The one for Boxing Day was rejected, and the one for Hogmanay was successful. It was throught gritted teeth that they [the licensing board] actually granted that, but the kind of scaremongering that the police seem to throw in my direction every time I make an application is continual.

“It’s the ‘potential’ for trouble, the ‘potential’ for violence, the ‘potential’ for antisocial behaviour. Really, Hawick is being made out to be Beirut at these [licensing board] meetings.

“We had a 3am licence on Hogmanay and there wasn’t a single issue in the club and there wasn’t a single arrest in the town. But the next time I make an application, the same objections will be thrown in my direction. I just wanted to make you aware that what the police are saying will potentially happen is not actually what is happening every weekend.”

Community councillor Jim Little said: “The police do a super job, but looking at their theory, you wouldn’t step out of the door in the morning in case a slate fell off the roof.”

Mr Gillies added: “They [the licensing board] are jeapordising my business and people’s jobs through what ifs and maybes.”

Community councillor Andy Maybury, who is also a member of the local licensing forum, said that the licensing board looked at national statistics and the correlation between longer hours, more drink and incidents involving the police. He added that staggered closing times made sense from a police point of view, but that Hawick seemed to get the short end of the stick.