A CURFEW preventing revellers from entering a nightclub in Thurso after midnight should be reviewed to help businesses in the town centre.
That is the view of Highland Licensing Board member Councillor Willie Mackay who has called for the curfew at Skinandi’s to be reconsidered.
It comes after campaigners in Inverness won their fight for a review relating to the city’s late-night venues.
Skinandi’s, in Sir George’s Street, is not allowed to admit people after midnight.
Mr Mackay said if the result of the review leads to the curfew being lifted in Inverness, the same should apply in Thurso.
"The curfew was introduced to stop late-night rowdiness in the streets but people I have spoken to have said it is about time the situation was reviewed," he told the Groat.
"It has worked to a certain extent, but it still leads to a problem that it leaves people unable to go elsewhere after midnight. I would like to look at the review in Inverness and think that if it could be lifted there, it could also be lifted in Thurso.
"It is disappointing that people have to leave other establishments by midnight just to enter the nightclub. I don’t think it is that good for business in the town centre as people should be free to go where they wish as long as the premises are open. But depending on the board’s decision regarding Inverness, my final opinion on Thurso would be based on that."
The Waterfront in Wick used to have a midnight curfew in place a few years ago but it has since been lifted.
Skinandi’s manager, Andrew Crawford, said the nightclub would welcome the lifting of the curfew, adding it would put the venue on a level-playing field with other businesses in the town.
The nightclub was recently awarded a 3am licence between Thursdays and Sundays and said it has developed a close working relationship with the Highland Licensing Board and Northern Constabulary. It will support any final decision regarding the curfew.
"The curfew was enforced by the Highland Licensing Board as part of our licence and any recommendations they make in the future we would be happy to support," he said.
"We have worked a lot with the authorities to help reduce noise pollution and public nuisance, but if the curfew got removed we would take the lead from the police and licensing board.
"We never volunteered for the curfew to be implemented and it is about cutting a fine line between pleasing our customers and the governing bodies.
"We wouldn’t self-impose a curfew if it was removed as customers have complained about not being able to get in after midnight.
"Tourists or people from outside the county have complained the most about the curfew as they are not aware of the situation.
"It has led to people taking risks by trying to climb over fences to get into the club’s smoking area so, from that point of view, it would mean a lot less hassle for us. We don’t enjoy turning away good-natured customers after midnight so removing the curfew would definitely be good for business."
Area chief inspector Matthew Reiss said he could not comment on the curfew issue, adding it was a matter for the licensing board.
He said police have developed a good relationship with licensed premises across Caithness.
"The main advantage of the curfew is that when people are in the nightclub, the streets are quieter and safer.
"The general level of vandalism and street disorder has shown an a downward trend over the last few years and we continue to increase the amount of licensed premises checks."