A NIGHTCLUB owner is justifying a late licence application on the grounds that his club keeps the institution of marriage alive.
Ian Hastings told councillors that his club is responsible for around 40 per cent of marriages in the Scottish Borders town of Kelso.
The 67-year-old businessman warned that unless his club, The Vibe, gets an extension until 3am he may have to close.
And he reckons that could have a devastating effect on the number of couples who tie the knot in the community.
Mr Hastings’ warning may come as a surprise to those who view nightclubs as little more than “cattle markets”.
But Mr Hastings, who has been happily married for 44 years, takes the opposite view.
I was a warehouse manager and she was working in the canteen, tempting me with extra sausagesIan Hastings
In his formal application to Scottish Borders Council licensing committee, Mr Hastings stated that approximately 40 per cent of newlyweds in the town met for the first time at Vibe.
Councillors will decide on Friday whether to allow Vibe an extra hour’s drinking on Friday and Saturday.
Mr Hastings insisted: “We’re populating the nation here.
“The club is probably the main way that people get together.
“There isn’t really anywhere else - unless you go to church. My lot don’t go to church anyway.”
He added: “I’ve seen countless couples get together over the years.
“We get a lot of wedding invitations too, from people who met at the club - that’s happened on numerous occasions.
“I’m just letting the board know that without this, they will lose an institution in the town.”
Entrance to The Vibe is free all week apart from Saturday when it costs £5.
Mr Hastings said he is under considerable commercial pressure from pubs, supermarkets and two-for-one booze deals still available just across the border.
He said: “It’s not about selling more booze, it’s just about getting more people through the doors.
“By the time the pubs shut it’s 1.15am, and we have to shut at 2am. Our customers only get an extra 45 minutes now.
He added: “Berwick is just 15 or 16 miles away and the clubs there are open till 4am.
“Because it’s in England they can also do two-for-one drinks deals.”
Mr Hastings concedes that his own marriage, to Margaret, flowered not in a nightclub but in the staff canteen at Selfridges, London.
A spokesman for Scottish Borders Council said: “The Scottish Borders Licensing Board will consider the application at the scheduled hearing tomorrow and, after hearing and giving proper consideration to all matters before it, will determine the application.”
Rev Tom McDonald, Church of Scotland minister at Kelso North church, said he had no idea whether the 40 per cent claim was accurate.
“I don’t particularly ask the couples who are getting married where they met,” he said.
“In the 20 years I’ve been here I’ve only been in the place once, years ago.
“I think it’s been revamped once or twice since then. It certainly seems very busy at weekends, as to whether it leads to better things I don’t know.
Plain-speaking Mr Hastings opened his letter to councillors with the words: “We are not in a position to employ a fancy licensing lawyer…”
On his own marriage he later revealed: “I got married 44 years ago. I met Margaret in Selfridges, we were both from Glasgow and working in London.
“I was a warehouse manager and she was working in the canteen, tempting me with extra sausages.”
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