Call to shut down saunas as licences up for renewal

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A CALL to shut down Edinburgh’s sauna trade has been made by an MSP as councillors prepare to decide this week whether many of the parlours will be allowed to remain open.

Sandra White has called on council chiefs to stop issuing entertainment licences for saunas.

Ms White, SNP MSP for Glasgow Kelvin, said: “They operate as a place to have sex, not get a massage or have a sauna.

“If you go on websites you can see what they offer, with comments from punters who have used them. It’s prostitution by any other name.”

The sauna licences have to be renewed every three years. On Wednesday, councillors will decide if 13 of the 15 parlours will be permitted to remain open.

Ms White added: “They operate above the law as the authorities turn a blind eye. I don’t understand why Edinburgh Council allows this. I would call on the women from Edinburgh to lobby the council to not allow this to happen.”

Other supporters claim the licence system helps to regulate the sex trade. Lothians MSP Margo MacDonald said: “The city has always had the right attitude and somehow manages to maintain a pragmatic, sensible and sensitive way of managing prostitution with a view to safety of women concerned and the security of the community.”