Late-night sector 'hardest hit' during pandemic

By Rebecca Weller

- Last updated on GMT

Importance of nightclubs: former operator Martin Murray (pictured) has urged Gov to save late-night businesses before it's too late
Importance of nightclubs: former operator Martin Murray (pictured) has urged Gov to save late-night businesses before it's too late

Related tags Staffordshire Nightclub NTIA Government

A former nightclub owner has called on the Government to recognise the importance of the late-night sector before it’s too late.

Operator Martin Murray was forced to close the doors of his Cannock, Staffordshire based nightclub, Silks (formerly Snoopy’s), after almost 50 years in business due to the pandemic, with the site now being converted into housing.

Murray, whose father originally opened the venue in January 1972, stated the late-night sector was forgotten during the pandemic and, after the original lockdown in early 2020 was extended over Easter, he knew he would not be able to recover and closed the doors for good.

He said: “With many decades experience, I knew the late-night sector would be the hardest hit with what was happening in the world.

Legal technicality 

“Easter [was] the launch of our year, always had been for 30 years. That five weeks run of bank holidays, launches your whole year.

“When [the Government] took that away, when the great British tradition of the bank holiday was removed, I knew then we would be at least another 12 months from then if not two years before we could open and that’s when I knew [we had to close].”

The former operator added late-night venues needed more financial backing to save them, having been overlooked in favour of other parts of the sector during and after the pandemic, stating business rates relief was a “legal technicality” not a “gift” as owners “can't pay rates if [they’re] not allowed to use a business”.

Furthermore, Murray, who took his first steps on the dancefloor at Silks, stated the Government needed to recognise the importance of late-night venues in bringing people together as well as aiding the development of new music.

Serious concern 

He said: “The next new scene always comes out of nightclubs. It only gets made if people enjoy it in person.

“A serious concern is where will this new music be able to develop?”

This comes as figures released from the Night-Time Industries Association (NTIA) through CGA earlier this week revealed one in five nightclubs had closed in the past three years, leaving just 1130 currently in operation across the UK, with the Midlands and North hardest hit.

NTIA​ CEO Michael Kill said: “"The Government needs to recognise the economic, cultural, and community value of clubs and the wider night-time economy. We must protect these businesses, using every means possible, and recognise their importance before it's too late.” 

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