Strip clubs: Glasgow awards licences to lap-dancing clubs months after Edinburgh ban is announced

Glasgow City Council has awarded licences to lap-dancing clubs for the first time – just months after Edinburgh’s licensing board voted to ban strip clubs in the Capital.

The City of Edinburgh Council voted through a nil-cap policy in March, limiting the number of establishments to zero and effectively forcing its four lap-dancing venues to close from April 2023.

Glasgow council has gone in the opposite direction, allowing the city's three venues to remain open.

It ruled in March that no new clubs could open, but existing venues would have "grandfather rights" to apply for sexual entertainment venue status.

Edinburgh Council plans to ban strip clubs from April 2023. Picture: Tony Marsh

Seventh Heaven, Diamond Dolls and Platinum Lace were each granted three-year licences.

Megara Furie, secretary of the GMB union's Adult Entertainment Branch, said the council's decision was a "brilliant day for the workers who campaigned for the future of their workplaces and their livelihoods".

Speaking to BBC Radio Scotland's Drivetime programme, she said: "The women working in strip clubs are doing so through choice and there is a process to become a dancer.

"It is not as if you can just walk in off the street. There is an interview process, auditions and things like that so it is not as simple as women being cattled in and made to dance for boys - it's just not like that at all.

"There is CCTV covering every square inch of the clubs and the safety of workers is put first".

With Edinburgh's four lap-dancing venues are expected to close next year, there are fears the ban will result in a “serious deterioration in women’s safety” and drive workers into a dangerous unregulated market.

In August, Councillor Lewis Younie called on council officials to investigate the potential impacts of prohibiting sexual entertainment venues (SEVs) in the capital on people who earn a living in the industry.

The Lib Dem councillor called out the ‘moral panic’ of members of the Licensing Board who voted narrowly earlier this year in favour of introducing a ‘nil-cap’ policy on SEVs from April 2023 – which will effectively stop the city’s four strip bars from operating legally and prevent any new venues from opening in future.

Union United Sex Workers (USW) claims that 100 jobs will be lost following the nil-cap and has successfully crowd-funded £20,000 to mount a legal challenge against the city council, arguing the ban is not compatible with the Equality Act.

Councillor Younie argues the controversial move will “endanger people’s lives and encourage criminality”, leading to a rise in backroom brothels and unlicensed strip clubs by reducing the choices available to workers.

However, he is hopeful that a change in the make-up of the council chamber following May’s election – where he won a historic third seat for the Lib Dems in the Almond ward – can act as a catalyst for the decision to be reviewed and overturned.

He said: “The facts are unchanged but the balance of councillors has changed very dramatically,” adding the policy will not make anyone “healthier, happier or safer”.

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