Council chiefs consider new licence for Edinburgh’s strip clubs

Capital strip clubs could be in line for tighter regulations, as council chiefs unveil a draft licensing framework for adult entertainment.

Thursday, 14th January 2021, 4:45 pm
Updated Thursday, 14th January 2021, 4:48 pm
A city strip bar

Edinburgh City Council has been investigating how to licence ‘Sexual Entertainment Venues’ (SEVs) in the capital since October 2019, when it held a series of evidence sessions with strip club operators, performers, Police Scotland, women’s charities and the NHS.

Possibilities under consideration include setting a limit on the number of strip clubs in the city’s so-called ‘pubic triangle', the times they operate and how they pay their employees to maximise the safety of workers and ensure their rights are respected.

For example, the evidence gathering session in October 2019 found that some establishments charged their performers a ‘house fee’, which was sometimes increased at short notice ahead of events such as Six Nations home games or the festivals – both of which see a huge influx of visitors to the city - while others just charged a percentage of each performers’ takings.

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Sexual entertainment venues are currently licensed in Edinburgh under standard public entertainment licences, as set out in the Air Weapons and Licensing (Scotland) Act 2015.

Now, after a delay due to the coronavirus pandemic, council officers say ‘it is clear that there is broad support for the introduction of a licensing system for SEVs’.

Officers have produced a draft resolution, which sets out the application process and the criteria each establishment will be judged on before its licence application is approved or refused.

For example, the draft resolution only considers the city centre as a suitable place for sex entertainment venues, and the council reserves the right to determine the appropriate number venues within the city centre.

A statutory consultation will now be carried out with various stakeholders, before being brought back to the council’s regulatory committee for approval.

A report, set to go before the committee on Monday January 18, reads: “The key aims of civic licensing are the preservation of public safety and the prevention of crime and disorder.

“A specific licensing regime for SEVs will allow local authorities to consider local circumstances and to exercise appropriate control and regulation of these venues in setting the number of venues able to operate within their area.”

It continues: “Having reviewed the initial consultation responses in conjunction with the views presented to the committee during evidence sessions, it is clear that there is broadsupport for the introduction of a licensing system for SEVs.

“There are a range of views with regard to the setting of any limits on the number of SEV premises in the city and certain localities.”

The city’s network of sex saunas are exempt from the attempt to license sex entertainment venues, following a council decree in February 2014, which removed ‘saunas or massage parlours’ from the need to acquire a Public Entertainment Licence.

The capital’s police and council have historically turned a blind eye to sex saunas and massage parlours, on the assumption that sex workers will be safer within these establishments rather than on the street.

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