More help for 'forgotten' industry, Wolverhampton nightclub boss pleas
"It does seem to me that nightclubs, in terms of support, have become the forgotten industry."by James Vukmirovic
Shaun Keasey, owner and manager of Gorgeous nightclub in Wolverhampton, has been speaking about the effect the current restrictions are having on both his business and others around the country.
Pubs, bars and restaurants were able to reopen at the beginning of July after months of lockdown, but close-proximity venues, such as nightclubs, were told to remain closed until further notice.
Mr Keasey said Gorgeous had been closed since lockdown began on March 20 and spoke about the losses his business had made during closure.
He said: "Based on previous years, in terms of take, we are down by more than a quarter of a million pounds, and we can't keep losing that kind of income.
"The staff have been furloughed, with some of them being able to work at our sister property the Prince Albert, and the business rates have been cancelled for the year, which is a great help.
"However, apart from that and a bounce back loan, there's been no government support, which I have found very disappointing as many bars and pubs have received support based on writable value."
Mr Keasey has been operating the nightclub in the city for 11 years and moved to the current site on School Street five years ago.
He said he had received help from Wolverhampton Council, which gave the club a grant from its discretionary support scheme, but said he felt the government needed to do more to help nightclubs around the country.
He said: "The local authority can only do so much for us as an industry and the government, in my opinion, needs to provide a solid package of realistic support to get nightclubs through.
"For me, I think that if we get to the middle of 2021 without being able to reopen, it starts to become a real problem and I will get very worried.
"We'd hoped to be open by September, which isn't likely to happen, and with Halloween, Bonfire Night and Christmas out of reach, we're missing out on a lot of our yearly income."
He said the idea of losing nightclubs would be a real tragedy and said the level of support by the government could be tailored to help nightclubs.
He said: "Most nightclubs have got a Sui generis planning classification, which means we don't fall under the governments support packages that pubs and bars get.
"I would ask the government to come up with a package of support, whether it's £25,000 or more because of the size of the venues and the amount of outgoings that we have.
"I think it's unfair to ask for one specific sector of the economy to remain closed with no extra support whatsoever and there is a risk that we could be forgotten about."