Licensing board rejects Aberdeen nightclub’s request to extend hours until 4am

A bid by an Aberdeen nightclub to stay open until 4am has been rejected.

Babylon on Alford Place applied for extended opening hours on Fridays and Saturdays, while its neighbour, The College bar, has applied for an extension until 2am.

Currently all city nightclubs close at 3am.

Solicitor Tony Dawson, representing owners PB Devco, told Aberdeen Licensing Board the trade has changed and is “still changing” from factors including the oil downturn, smoking ban and reduced drink driving limit.

He said: “The reason that my clients have decided that this is an appropriate time for them to go and apply is they think the demand is overwhelming for later hours.

“People are going out later and staying out later. Over the years this is a trend that is now significant.”

Police Scotland objected to the application and said any change to operating hours would impact upon the deployment of police resources.

Sergeant Gillian Flett told councillors on the board that while common assaults are down, serious assaults are rising, with most crimes committed by people who have left “late opening venues”.

She said in the past year there have been 41 serious assaults in Aberdeen at weekends with 13 of these taking place within licensed premises and 28 outside them.

She added: “A 4am hour will dramatically alter the landscape during the weekend night-time economy.”

Cllr Marie Boulton, convener of the board, said a 4am closing time would be “slightly premature” as the current 3am policy is to be reviewed after the local council elections in May.

But Cllr Alan Donnelly, who supported the 4am closing time, said: “I think we have to acknowledge that the licensing policy in these twilight months no longer reflects the trade.”

Members voted by five to two to reject the application.

Mr Dawson decided to withdraw the second application to extend opening hours at The College, acknowledging that Police Scotland were against the idea.

Members did however agree to extend the opening hours of Soul on Union Street, also owned by the firm, from 1am to 2am on Friday and Saturday.