Edinburgh council chiefs plan new post to help sex workers find 'more useful' employment

COUNCIL chiefs plan to follow up their controversial licensing scheme for lapdancing clubs by creating a new post to help sex workers find alternative employment.
Edinburgh currently has four sexual entertainment venuesEdinburgh currently has four sexual entertainment venues
Edinburgh currently has four sexual entertainment venues

Labour councillor Mandy Watt, who wants to see the clubs banned completely, said she hoped the licensing scheme - expected to come into force in 2021 - was the first step towards closing the venues down altogether.

In a radio interview she said: “I’m sure the women who work in these venues are intelligent and have lots more potential, skills and talents they could use to get themselves better jobs and build careers and do something more worthwhile with their time and energy.”

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Asked what the council would do to help them find other work, she said: “We have a lot of employment programmes in the council which do help people to find new jobs and give them new skills.

“We are hoping to fund a new role - it has not been confirmed yet, but we’re working on it - to help people in the adult entertainment industry who don’t want to be there to do something more interesting and useful instead.”

And in response to the suggestion some women chose to work as lapdancers, Cllr Watt said: “Give people something better and better opportunities and they will choose to do something else.”

The licensing plan - approved by the council’s regulatory committee on Monday - is being introduced under new powers handed down by the Scottish Government which also allow councils to cap the number of sexual entertainment venues (SEVs) - and could even set it at zero.

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United Voices of the World, a union which represents sex workers, has argued a ban on such venues would drive the activities underground and push women further into the gig economy. The Capital currently has four SEVs - three in the West Port area and another in Shandwick Place.

Cllr Watt said: “I think these clubs should not exist. I think the Scottish Government should have banned them outright. I don’t think they are healthy in a modern society that’s supposed to be about equality.

“They are a relic from the past and they are not needed in Edinburgh and not really wanted by the majority of people who live here.”

A formal statutory consultation on the licensing regime will take place next summer.