Ban on lap dancing bars could be introduced if new powers used by council

Strip clubs in Edinburgh could face a ban if new powers are introduced by the council (Photo: TSPL)
Strip clubs in Edinburgh could face a ban if new powers are introduced by the council (Photo: TSPL)
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Lap-dancing clubs and bars could face a ban after City of Edinburgh Council launched a consultation about the potential of introducing licences on so-called ‘Sexual Entertainment Venues’ (SEVs).

The move follows Glasgow City Council’s move to consult on the same controversial issue earlier this year.

Depending on the results of the consultation, all of Edinburgh’s lap-dancing clubs could be faced with closure if the council decide to cap the number of SEVs.

In the consultation an SEV is defined as “a premises where the sexual entertainment is performed live, is for the direct or indirect financial benefit of the organiser and is for the sole purpose of sexual stimulation of members of the audience.

This would include lap-dancing clubs but does not cover massage parlours or properties operating as saunas.

Legislation introduced earlier this year by the Scottish Government gave councils the power to licence SEVs for the first time.

Until now, SEVs such as the Western Bar and Burke and Hare near the Grassmarket have only required alcohol licences to operate legally.

The council claims the regulation of SEVs could “improve standards in the industry” including ensuring the safety of performers and customers.

It adds that licencing them could help mitigate any negative impact of the venues on the surrounding area and improving accountability and control.

If the powers are brought in, the council said inspections would take place by council staff alongside Police Scotland.

Questions in the consultation cover people’s views on whether they agree with a cap on SEVs and where people would most like to see caps in place.

Specific areas are referenced including George Street, Grassmarket, Portobello and Kirkliston as examples of places where a cap could come into effect.

People will also be asked whether they believe it is “acceptable” to have SEVs close to family leisure centres, historic buildings, and banks and office areas.

The council are also seeking views on how long SEVs can trade for, how they advertise their services and the potential restriction of visibility of the interior to passers-by.

In their background document for the consultation, Edinburgh council warn SEVs could continue to “operate without any direct control from the council.”

The council added: “Adoption of the powers to license SEVs does not imply approval of these types of premises by the Council.”

The council also states licencing of lap dancing bars could help preserve public safety and public order and prevent public nuisance and crime.

The consultation document also states it would help protect children and young people from harm alongside reducing violence against women.

Licensing Convener, Councillor Catherine Fullerton, said: “The Council is currently consulting on whether Sexual Entertainment venues (SEVs) should be licensed in Edinburgh, following the introduction of new legislation by the Scottish Government.

“The consultation aims to gather views on whether the Councilshould adopt these powers and on how any licensing system for Sexual Entertainment Venues could look, should it be introduced.”

The consultation opened on July 8 and will last until 17 August.