Angus licensing councillors have pulled the shutters down on a bid to open two local nightclubs until 3am.
De Vito’s operate clubs in Millgate, Arbroath and Montrose’s George Street.
They wanted the longer opening hours for Friday and Saturday nights.
Operators say the move is aimed at aiding recovery from the “ravages” of the pandemic.
And they argued nightclubs deserve longer opening hours than pubs – some of which are now able to open in Angus until 2am.
But licensing board councillors voted against the extension to try to protect people living nearby from the potential of early hours anti-social behaviour.
One councillor said it was time to “draw a line in the sand” on clubs’ opening hours.
Why did De Vito’s want 3am opening?
Angus licensing policy usually allows nightclubs to open until 2am.
But Arbroath De Vito’s already has a Friday and Saturday night licence until 2.30am.
The same policy generally requires pubs to close at 1am at weekends.
However, since the pandemic there have been a number of 2am Fri/Sat pub licences granted.
Representing De Vito’s, licensing solicitor Janet Hood said: “The reason (for the application) is to maintain the differential there has always been between basic pubs and nightclubs.
“This is, one, to make up for the ravages of Covid.
“Covid has been an absolute nightmare for the licensed trade.
“My clients have suffered badly. They have barely managed to hold the premises together.
“And, two, the differential has been breached by various public houses.
“Owners of nightclubs incur huge costs in terms of bands, and specialist DJs, who don’t come cheap.
“The differential is really important to the survival of these businesses.”
Police Scotland objected to the applications.
And they warned that customers spilling out of nightclubs at 3am would place extra pressure on their weekend resources.
In response, Mrs Hood said the two premises were well run.
He said: “When we first started down this track in Kirriemuir I pointed out we were levering the door ajar.
“The last time I said we’d kicked it in.
“Now we’ve just taken it off the hinges.
“I think we should just dump the policy now because nobody is sticking to it.
“I agree they have had a difficult time.
“But I think now is the time to draw a line in the sand. Next time round it will be four o’clock.”
Forfar councillor Colin Brown added: “An extra half hour on the inside means an extra hour on the outside.
“That could mean residents are looking at four o’clock by the time all the customers are away and normal service is resumed.”
Angus Council leader David Fairweather moved the granting of the 3am opening.
He said: “When you look at it, it’s an extra 30 minutes.”
“It seems the (Arbroath) property is extremely well run.
“Considering what this type of premises has gone through in the past 18 months, is it too much to ask?”
The board voted narrowly to refuse the 3am opening.
It means both clubs must shut at 2.30am on Friday and Saturday nights, and 2am Sunday to Thursday.