Police refuse to take sauna hours extension lying down

The Ambassador Sauna in Lothian Road
The Ambassador Sauna in Lothian Road
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POLICE have called for an Edinburgh sauna’s plans to open until 3am to be blocked over fears the premises would attract masses of “undesirable” drunken revellers.

The Ambassador Sauna has applied to the council for a licence to remain open until 3am.

With a current closing time of 2am, the Lothian Road premises is already the only sex industry business in the Capital to open past midnight – which police say was down to an “oversight” by officers and councillors in 2007.

Police warned that approving the application at the city council licensing sub-committee tomorrow would be likely to lead to a barrage of bids from other sex industry premises for late-night opening.

The late licence would be for Friday and Saturday night when Lothian Road is packed with revellers.

Police licensing inspector Gordon Hunter said: “The premises previously operated until midnight up until 2007, whereby their hours of operation were increased to 2am.

“A variation application was submitted in respect of the increase in hours at this time, however, due to an oversight on the parts of the police and the council, no representation was made with regards to this application for increased hours.

“It is pertinent to note that had this application, submitted in 2007, been brought to my attention at that time, I would have strongly objected to any such request.”

He added: “I am still of the opinion that the hours currently afforded to the premises are already excessive and should not have been granted in 2007, and for that reason I believe that the current hours are more than adequate for the needs of the business and, as such, I am unable to support this application.”

Ann Wigglesworth, secretary of the Tollcross Community Council, which has raised concerns about the premises in the past, said there was no case for later opening hours.

She said: “We see no reason why the Ambassador Sauna should be allowed to open any later than other premises.

“We have also tackled the planning authority about the size of the signage, which is very in your face.

“We are very annoyed that our protest went nowhere last year but we hope this will be looked at again.”

She added: “The other side is that the council is trying to market this area as the city’s cultural quarter, with the Usher Hall, Filmhouse, and so on.

“Although there’s no reason why there can’t be a Soho-type area in the city, it really does need to be of a lower profile.”

The Ambassador Sauna has been operated by Felice Di Resta and his daughter Delizia in recent years.

The building is still registered with Mr Di Resta, but the octogenarian has reportedly taken a back seat from the running of the business.

When contacted, staff at the sauna said they could not discuss the case and the owner was not available to comment on the application.