Edinburgh strip club ban: Councillor Lewis Younie in bid to reverse policy

Council will be asked to instigate review
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A Lib Dem councillor is bidding to reverse Edinburgh’s ban on strip clubs. Lewis Younie will ask the full council meeting on Thursday to instigate a review of the decision earlier this year to set a “nil” cap on the number of sexual entertainment venues (SEVs) in the Capital, effectively forcing the city’s four existing strip clubs to close and blocking any new ones.

Sex workers have been campaigning against the decision and are taking the council to court, seeking a judicial review of the ban. Councillor Younie said he feared if the current venues are forced to close then the performers will end up working in unregulated and unsafe locations. He said: “I think the decision that was made was not done with the workers or their best interests in mind. I think it was an application of morality in spite of what they were being told about the people actually working in the industry.

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“I want this to be revisited. Edinburgh is a liberal city. We are an open, inclusive and progressive city and the decision to make people work in potentially unregulated and less safe environments just speaks to the worst impulses of government.”

Councillor Younie is asking the council to agree that a report on the issues should be presented to the regulatory committee, which is responsible for the decision on SEVs. He hopes they will then vote again on the policy. And he believes the change in the composition of the council following the elections in May means there is a good chance the decision could be reversed.

"There are a lot of new members and across the parties there is dissatisfaction with the situation. It feels like a morality police type of approach. It hasn’t painted the city in the best light and I think we have an opportunity to make it better. This industry doesn’t disappear. It never has whenever there have been attempts to close it down or pressure on people to stop practising in it. All it does is drive it underground into potentially very unsafe situations where people’s lives will be in danger.

“It’s an issue of choice and what people do with their bodies and it should not be for us to regulate that in this way, but it is an issue of women’s safety as well and with everything that has happened over the last few years and the publicity about women’s safety I find it surprising this decision was made.”

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Councillor Younie said he was optimistic the policy can be changed ahead of the date when the ban is due to be introduced in April next year. The ban was approved by five votes to four by the regulatory committee on March 31 this year, with Labour and Conservatives backing the ban while SNP, Lib Dem and Green councillors opposed it.

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