Patrick Harvie, Scottish Green MSP for Glasgow, will this week use a Scottish Parliament debate to raise issues relating to the hugely unpopular closure of The Arches music and arts venue in the city.
On Thursday (25 June) MSPs will vote on changes to Scotland’s alcohol licensing laws, on the final day of debate on the Air Weapons and Licensing Bill.
Mr Harvie intends to move amendments to add “promoting social and cultural life” to Licensing Objectives and consideration of the impact of decisions on a Licensing Board’s whole area when reviewing a venue’s license.
Patrick Harvie MSP said:
“The loss of The Arches has been terrible for staff and for the cultural fabric of Scotland’s biggest city. The venue showed consistent responsibility on safety issues, and the decision to restrict its license, which led directly to its closure, was incredibly short-sighted.
“It would be absurd to imagine that recreational drug use will be reduced because of this decision, or that public safety will be helped in any way. All that will happen is that people will switch to other, perhaps less experienced and less responsible, venues. Many venues will think twice in future before they report problems resulting from drug use to the police. This attitude to licensing is compounding the failures of this country’s drug laws.
“Sadly this chance to change the law comes too late for The Arches itself. There have been warm words from the Scottish Government following the closure but we need much more than that. The Licensing Bill presents an opportunity to at least begin a debate about how we take account of the bigger picture, of cultural and social values, when reaching such decisions.”