Glasgow & West Scotland

Glasgow taskforce offers support to fire-hit businesses

Aerial view of the fire Image copyright Police Scotland
Image caption An aerial view from the Police Scotland helicopter shows how close the Victoria's nightclub fire was to the Pavilion Theatre

Staff who lost their jobs after two devastating fires on Sauchiehall Street will be provided with support by other Glasgow businesses.

A taskforce set up after the blazes at Victoria's Nightclub and the Glasgow School of Art will also assist local firms encountering insurance problems.

It includes representatives from Glasgow Chamber of Commerce (GCoC).

Stuart Patrick, chief executive of GCoC, said the fires had had a "huge" impact.

He added: "Even though parts of the street are trading as normal, many shops, restaurants and bars have been forced to close temporarily due to vital restrictions within the safety cordon and others have seen their footfall reduced dramatically.

"It's hard to underestimate the negative effect this has had on many businesses locally, but the task force is determined to do all it can to alleviate the effects on traders in one of Glasgow's most important and best-known thoroughfares."

'Simply heartbreaking'

Mr Patrick described the aftermath of the fires on 22 March and 15 June as "one of the biggest challenges to face the city in recent years."

He added: "The Victoria's fire was bad enough, but to have that compounded with the blaze at 'The Mack' is simply heartbreaking.

"The sheer scale of the task is enormous, but, having spoken on a daily basis to various council departments, it's clear that they are doing everything humanly possible to mitigate the worst impact on local businesses and residents.

"The fact that Sauchiehall Street had already embarked upon a multi-million pound transformation, with major landscaping, pedestrianisation, transport improvements and the creation of a Business Improvement District, underlines its importance to the city."

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption The art school's Mackintosh building was undergoing restoration works after the previous fire in 2014

Mr Patrick also urged the public to continue to support traders who remained open for retail, leisure or entertainment.

The taskforce pledged to co-ordinate meetings between Glasgow City Council leader Susan Aitken, senior council officials and businesses inside the safety cordon which have been forced to close.

And it also vowed to liaise with the Scottish government regarding business rates for affected businesses.

The group wants to see the Sauchiehall Street Avenue project progress as quickly as possible and new signage to ensure business in the area are advertised.

Ms Aitken said: "The Sauchiehall Street Task Force will do everything in its power to restore Sauchiehall Street to its traditional position as one of the city's leading destinations for those shopping, eating or drinking out, and going clubbing or to a concert or the theatre.

"The council will work with our partners on the taskforce and all those affected by these tragic fires to ensure that action is taken to make Sauchiehall Street the fantastic city centre location that it should be.

"We have great confidence in the future of Sauchiehall Street."

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