FURIOUS strip bar bosses were told to remove images of scantily-clad women – hung inside the club.
Bosses at Club Rouge in Lothian Road were stunned when licensing officers told them there had been complaints about images promoting life drawing classes displayed inside their venue.
Club manager Alex Smith claims the edict is evidence of a weak enforcement process that puts club workers at risk by focussing on minor issues while failing to crack down on sexual abuse and assaults happening regularly in bars across the Capital.
Now Club Rouge staff have joined forces with burlesque ambassador Sukki Singapora to unveil a poster calling for proper protection of workers and asserting the right of women to choose a job without fear of judgement or discrimination.
Mr Smith said: “We’re being victimised for really stupid things yet they are ignoring the really bad things that are going wrong.”
Mr Smith has accused the Capital’s licensing system of being “hypocritical in the extreme”.
He said a team of four licensing officials visited his club to tell him there had been complaints about the A6-sized promotional flyers located next to the venue’s entrance, and asked him to take them down as they were deemed “unsuitable”.
He said pressure from council staff eased only after his lawyer became involved and pointed out the art classes were included in operational plans presented during the bar’s licence application process to officials.
The row comes as licensing chiefs continue a drive to improve the appearance of the Lothian Road and Tollcross areas.
Mr Smith, however, is less than impressed.
He said: “We too would like to spruce up the district and we’ve been renovating our bar since April this year.
“But these officers are not doing their job. They’ll say something about flyers, which seem to be more important than the safety of the girls inside.”
A council spokeswoman said the authority talks continually to the owners of businesses in the informal red light area, which has become a haven for stag parties.
She said: “As part of recent activity by the council, Licensing Standards Officers have been meeting with businesses and others to discuss how best to improve the look of their local area. These have been largely positive discussions and a genuine attempt to engage local businesses in the overall improvement of their area.”