ONE of Scotland's most prestigious arts venues is facing near certain closure after licensing chiefs shut its controversial nightclub operation.

The move against The Arches follows the latest complaints against the venue by Police Scotland, which said there were "potentially lethal and profound consequences" unless instances of drug misuse and disorder were addressed.

It is the third time in just over a year the police have tried to shut the venue.

But lawyers for the venue, which funds one of Europe's leading arts centres from the revenue from its club operation, argued that almost all the police complaints stemmed from the staff alerting them to drugs finds.

They claimed vigilance in searches and their management polices were being used against the venue.

However board chairman Bill Butler announced the venue would be forced to close every day at midnight, effectively winding up its club nights and killing off its main source of income.

The Arches said the move meant the likely closure of the rest of the operation.

Mark Anderson, executive director, said: "We are obviously very disappointed with today's outcome. We will now have to consider our options but the impact of this decision may well result in the closure of one of Europe's most highly regarded arts venues and a key contributor to Glasgow's night time economy.

"It's not only a bad day for the Arches but the portents don't look look good for the wider licensed trade."

Police Scotland had previously failed in an attempt to have The Arches closed last year following the drugs-related death of 17-year-old Regan McColl after it agreed to implementing a number of measures and the board agreed it had taken all the steps it could.

Following an incident earlier this year the police used a "closure notice" and attempted to have it shut permanently but the bid was ruled unlawful.

At today's licensing board the force claimed the venue's "robust drugs search policy" was "not sufficient deterrent to patrons attending the premises in possession of drugs".

Police solicitor Duncan Campbell said: "It cannot be stressed enough the potentially lethal consequences that may arise from this situation should these matters not be addressed.

"By far these premises pose the greatest concern to Glasgow Division and the biggest drain on police resources. Due to the culture of drug misuse associated with the premises, the licence holder is unable to operate the premises in a suitable manner.

"The requirement to provide such regular attendance to the premises was indicated by the Scottish Ambulance Service as being a significant drain on their resources."

But The Arches solicitor Archie Maciver said that in all but a small handful of instances the police were only aware of drug misuse because staff at the venue had contacted them.

He said that any move against the club, which he said had the more security and medical procedures in place than any other venue, would simply shift drug use to other premises which did not have the same checks as The Arches.

Mr Maciver also argued that only two complaints by the police related to alcohol, which is the basis of the licensing regime.