My Column

Scots Govt can no longer dance around problems facing nightclubs

  • Date: Monday 13th March 2023
column Picture

It has been a tough few years for Scotland’s nightclub industry.

It wasn’t so long ago the sector felt like the forgotten child during the pandemic, with little monetary help in lockdown and often-confusing messaging provided by the Scottish Government around COVID passports and when the party could get started again for Scotland’s clubs.

Industry leaders were quick to point out that the already fragile night-time economy was in dire need of help, and with the backdrop of late-night venues south of the border able to pump up the volume and get back to business, Scotland’s clubs were left in the dark and haemorrhaging money.

I’m perhaps doing the government a disservice by criticising their approach at a time when all industries, not the mention the health service, were under unprecedented pressure. However, it did feel that they were slow to come to the aid of a sector that provides numerous jobs - up to 16,000 in Glasgow alone. And we mustn’t forget that these businesses, in turn, help support vendors and suppliers all over the country, many of whom are very much reliant on what goes on after dark.

So it’s important to remember that the grumblings in the media about what was happening to the night-time economy wasn’t about the public feeling hard done by as they couldn’t let their hair down and hit the dancefloor. There were a lot of livelihoods and businesses on the line, and indeed many unfortunately did not survive.

I read a recent report, citing stats from last year, which found that Scotland’s electronic music industry alone is worth a cool £550million to the country’s coffers. A substantial amount before even taking into consideration its cultural importance too.

The research was commissioned by the Night Time Industries Association (NIAT), which was keen to examine the economic contribution and the cultural significance of the electronic music industry to the UK economy.

In figures that came as even a surprise to me, it found that the total measurable economic impact of electronic music in the UK – including concerts, festivals, and nightclubs – is estimated at £2.63billion.

They say that music transcends borders, and this was certainly highlighted in the report, showing that many of Scotland’s towns and cities have contributed greatly to our burgeoning music scene over the years.

Whether it’s a small venue such as Glasgow’s Sub Club building a reputation on the global stage for hosting the best club nights, or a young lad from the Borders called Calvin Harris becoming one of the world’s biggest superstar DJs - Scotland’s music scene is integral to both our economy and identify.

It is worrying then, that just as in COVID times, our night-time economy industry leaders are once again sounding the alarm that they are in peril, and I really do believe that the Scottish Government would do well to listen.

With the cost of living crisis continuing to hurt pockets across the country, weekly trips to the local watering hole or a night out with friends has become less frequent for many, as more and more people prioritise what they put their hard earned cash towards.

This slowdown in people going out, and the spiralling trading costs for night-time economy businesses, has prompted fears that around one in four independent and culture businesses are at risk of being lost in the next six months. 

These worrying findings were part of another recent report commissioned by the NIAT, which found that more than half of the UK’s night-time businesses are seeing increased trading costs of over 30 per cent - compared to pre-pandemic - with over 70 per cent of businesses in the current climate either barely breaking even or losing money.

Its tough times for all who are working within the industry and we are already seeing the casualties of this new crisis. As I touched on in my previous column a few weeks back, Glasgow institution Kained Holdings (a firm behind many popular bars and restaurants in the city) went into liquidation and unfortunately I don’t think this will be the last of the big names within Scotland that will go to the wall.

How the Scottish Government will help those businesses in need remains to be seen, however with the figures produced by the NIAT for electronic music’s importance to Scotland’s economy alone, I’d hope that sounds the drum for action to safeguard this major contributor to Scotland’s GDP.



The National Farmers Union of Scotland (NFU Scotland) is calling for the protection of poultry and horticulture from rising energy bills.

It wants farmers to be included in The Department for Energy Security and Net Zero’s (DESNEZ) Energy and Trade Intensive Industry scheme (ETII).

In a nutshell, the scheme attempts to protect certain sectors from rising energy costs, based on their energy and trade intensity. It currently covers many sectors and areas like manufacturing and production, and even libraries, museums, and botanical gardens.

In a letter to DESNEX, NFU Scotland said a reduction in domestic food production would risk further inflation rises for UK consumers and could have a domino effect on the thousands of supply chain companies that are sustained by the farming sector.

That’s the last thing we want. We’ve already seen empty supermarket shelves, with some blaming extreme weather in Spain and even more blaming Brexit.

We need to listen to NFU Scotland and do what we can to protect our domestic food production, export food markets, and the consumer at large.  

The scheme basically outlines what sectors the taxpayer deems worthy of further support.

Considering that currently includes things like the ‘manufacture of assembled parquet floors’ and ‘manufacture of veneer sheets and wood-based panels’, you’d think NFU Scotland have a valid point in securing food production too. 

It’s so important for the government to offer stability to the major markets and there are few industries more deserving of that relief than the one that puts food on our plate.



Sheffield City Council made an embarrassing mishap on St. David’s Day, dedicated to the Patron Saint of Wales, with the public authority managing to hoist a Saltire on the town hall flagpole.

In what should have been a nod to their Welsh neighbours, Sheffield City Council’s gaffe has managed to wind up two nations instead.

This kind of cock-up reminds us of how important an organisation’s external communications are. While most will have a chuckle at the mishap and move on, blunders like this can cause reputational damage.

Predictably it did results on comments popping up on Twitter about “incompetence” and “stupidity”.

Sheffield City Council has since issued an apology for the mistake.



I was quite emotional to learn that Morton Rolls was ceasing to trade. The closure means 250 people may be out of a job, which will likely have a domino effect on other Scottish businesses. Will Lorne sales take a hit next as a result?

Morton’s soft and crispy rolls have greeted thousands of blue and white collar workers most mornings for the last 50-plus years. It seems cruel that such an iconic brand  can just fail overnight.

It’s yet another reminder that the market does not consider history or sentimentality.

Despite all this I’d be surprised to see their 2021 upgraded factory stand still too long. If someone manages to fire things up again, will we see the brand come back to life with it?










Back to column listings

Recent News

News Archive