Nightclub boss hoping to strike it third time lucky in bid to extend opening hours

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

A Hawick nightclub boss is challenging the status of Galashiels as the only town in the Borders where weekend revellers can drink until 3am.

Neil Gillies, licensee of Base, where the bar shuts at 2am on Fridays and Saturdays, is asking tomorrow’s meeting of Scottish Borders Council’s licensing board for a permanent amendment to his operating plan, giving him an extra hour on both nights.

That would give his Baker Street premises parity with the two nightspots in Overhaugh Street, Galashiels.

It will be the third time that Mr Gillies has sought a level playing field from the board, which, in 2013, decreed that any applications for extensions beyond 2am would only be granted in “exceptional circumstances”.

Galashiels, however, is exempt from that otherwise region-wide policy because it is a university town.

In February 2014, the board, despite objections from the police, agreed to depart from this restriction and give Mr Gillies his 3am extension for a trial period.

But when he sought to make this temporary arrangement permanent in February, 2015, some local residents objected, citing issues with noise, litter and anti-social behaviour, and the board refused his application.

Since then, Mr Gillies has successfully applied for occasional 3am extensions to cover special events in Hawick, including the common riding, the town rugby club’s annual sevens tournament and Hogmanay.

The police have objected to the new bid, although they acknowledge Mr Gillies has worked with local officers during the dispersal from his premises to encourage punters to leave the area quietly.

“Due to competing demands on limited police resources, it is not always possible to have officers in the area at closing time,” state the police.

Dr Tim Patterson, the region’s joint director of public health, has also objected, claiming there are three times the number of alcohol-related anti-social behaviour incidents in Hawick than the Borders average.

But Ian Tunnah, Scottish Borders Council’s licensing standards officer, has declined to object, noting instead that “there would appear to have been no increase in disturbance, disorder or complaints linked to the premises as a result of the late-hour extensions which have been granted”.