ONE of Helensburgh’s busiest bars is facing an uncertain future after its licensing hours were cut amid police concerns over violence.

The Logie Baird in James Street has had its hours cut and a curfew imposed after a string of incidents at and near the premises.

The sanctions were imposed by Argyll and Bute’s licensing board on Tuesday.

The hearing, which lasted around three hours, was called at the request of Police Scotland.

But the bar’s operators told the hearing they feared a cut in hours would lead to the closure of the business.

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The couple, from Kilcreggan, took over the premises in February 2017.

And the board, chaired by Helensburgh and Lomond South councillor David Kinniburgh, decided to take the action against the James Street bar.

Local restaurateurs Cara and Milan Nikolic took over the James Street premises in February 2017.

Inspector David Quinn from Police Scotland said: “The Chief Constable makes this application on the grounds that the objectives of the licence are impacted.

“In the time that the current operators have run these premises there have been 98 incidents. Of these, 79 have occurred between midnight and 2am on a Friday or Saturday.

“These relate to extreme levels of intoxication which have resulted in some instances of paramedics being called.

“Extended opening hours were granted over the festive season on strict conditions of more stewards and staff, but clearly this is not sustainable.

“The Chief Constable is concerned that the premises are being run in such a way despite the best efforts of the police licensing team, and the local team in Helensburgh, to support them.”

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The Nikolics were in attendance at the hearing, but solicitor Archie MacIver initially spoke for them.

He said: “Their [the Nikolics’] relationship with the town goes back to 2010.

“They have another three businesses, all of which were failing and have been turned around with heavy investment.

“They have invested in the Logie Baird and tried to make it a success. The most recent example is the upgrading of its external frontage.

“Clearly there are a number of matters raised by the police and you might think ‘what sort of premises is this?’.

“But you will see that there are a great many incidents where staff have acted appropriately.

“People have turned up at the door and been refused admission, not taken kindly and kicked off.

“There are others where people have been told they cannot be served as they have had enough and have to leave, and they have kicked off.

“If you take these incidents out [of the report] you are left with a kernel where occasionally, you say that with hindsight, things could have been done differently.”

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Inspector Quinn added that police had changed the Logie Baird’s status from ‘monitored’ to ‘problematic’ in November.

Helensburgh and Lomond South councillor Richard Trail asked if it would help the situation if opening hours were changed.

But Mr Nikolic said: “If you reduce the hours, we fear we would close, I am pretty positive about that.

“Our loss is not as bad as in the previous year because of the late opening. Our food sales are increasing slowly.”

Mrs Nikolic added: “The late night customers we have are the premises’ bread and butter at the moment as it is all that differentiates us from other premises in the area.

“Previously the Logie Baird had its doors closed and the owners walked away. To take away the thing that differentiates it from other pubs in the town would be catastrophic.”

The board decided to cut the premises’ weekend hours until 1am and to impose an 11pm curfew for six months.

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In a statement afterwards the couple said: “We are very disappointed with the decision. Realistically it’s going to be a struggle to survive this.

“It’s sad given the amount of work we’ve put into rejuvenating this listed building and the operational changes made taking account of some of the incidents since we were told in November our licence was to be reviewed.

“In the last five months we have had a small handful of incidents and this has to be taken in the context that we have a capacity of 350 and can have 700 people through our doors over a weekend.

“In the last seven years since a big chain opened in the town we have seen five local pubs close. The late night licence is what set Logie’s apart and was vital to its sustainability.

“This decision has a huge knock on effect for Helensburgh, with only one smaller premises now open in the town until 2am, and I know the owner is extremely concerned about this.

“With the new 11pm curfew imposed whilst the rest of the town has a 1am curfew we really hope people continue to support us and we will do our very best to continue operating.”