Licensing law plan for lap-dancing clubs

As it stands, clubs use an alcohol licence. Picture: Justin Spittle
As it stands, clubs use an alcohol licence. Picture: Justin Spittle
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LAP-DANCING clubs face a crackdown under a new law proposed by the Scottish ­Government, giving councils the power to ban sexual ­entertainment venues.

Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill has launched a consultation on plans for a new licensing system for the clubs, reviving an idea rejected by MSPs just three years ago.

Most lap-dancing clubs operate under an alcohol licence, specifying the nature of entertainment available in their operating plan.

But the consultation document says the situation has changed since 2010, when the Scottish Parliament rejected the idea of a separate sexual entertainment licence.

The document states: “Recent court judgements have called into question the ability of licensing boards to set conditions that stray from a tight focus on the sale of alcohol. This leaves uncertainty in the regulation of sexual entertainment, with many licensing boards believing that the 
alcohol licensing system is not, as currently constructed, able to provide adequate control.”

But it would be up to ­councils to decide whether a separate regime should be introduced in their area.

Ann Wigglesworth, secretary of Tollcross Community Council, welcomed the idea of stricter controls but said they were not calling for the venues to be outlawed.

She said: “Some people would like to ban them totally, but most people are realistic that they are going to exist somewhere. We would like to see minimal advertising on their windows. Most people find these places online, everyone knows where to go for adult entertainment, they should not be allowed to display such tawdry images, bringing the area down.”

Councillor Gavin Barrie, convener of the city’s licensing sub-committee, said any recent objections had been to late opening hours for such venues rather than the nature of the entertainment. He said: “I don’t see a problem that has to be addressed at the current time, but perhaps this consultation will throw up concerns.”

Mr MacAskill said: “It is right that local people should have a say in the character of their communities.”