West Lothian Council will have to decide whether it should issue licences to cover sexual entertainment.
Changes in the law mean that places such as lap-dancing clubs will no longer be covered with the same broad brush of alcohol licensing.
Gary McMullan, a licensing solicitor with the council, said that developments in case law had lead to the introduction of specific licensing for Sexual Entertainment Venues (SEVs).
He told the council’s Environment PDSP that the question for the council was whether SEVs should be licensed in the county. If so, to determine what an appropriate number would be, and what would be appropriate wording for the policy statement on licensing.
“This is the first stage of the process. This is to ask for the authority to begin a public consultation and gather evidence,” he said.
At the moment only three places in the county have an adult entertainment element to their licence. This covers events such as ‘ladies nights’. This is not the same as an SEV licence which defines “sexual entertainment for a live audience , for financial gain or stimulation”. This applies even if the audience is only one person.
Councillor Alison Adamson wondered if this meant the legislation could be construed to cover prostitution. Mr McMullan said it did not.
Cllr Adamson said she was disappointed that the council could not object on purely moral grounds and said any policy statement from the council should contain moral reasons, as this would be something that would come back from public consultation.
Cllr Kirsteen Sullivan, who had earlier asked if a policy would guarantee safeguards for women said: “I don’t want to express a definitive opinion without getting more information. But the safety of women is absolutely paramount and must be kept at the forefront of the legislation.”
She added: ” I would be fearful that if these regulations were to come into force in the cities and West Lothian was unregulated then it would move this out here from the cities.”
She, cited wider concerns about the connection between people trafficking and the sexual exploitation of women.
Cllr Diane Calder said she would express a definitive view: “That we have to do all we can to restrict this in West Lothian.”