Strip club bosses insist 3am licence snub is bum deal

Bottoms Up has been denied permission to open until 3am
Bottoms Up has been denied permission to open until 3am
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Bosses at a strip club have been left raging after the city’s licensing board snubbed their bid to open later – weeks after allowing their biggest rival to do so.

Bottoms Up, in Lothian Road, had applied to stay open until 3am at the weekends and 2am on week nights following a successful bid from Fantasy Palace in August. Police had predicted the controversial decision would lead to a flood of similar applications from lap-dancing bars and warned that more revellers emerging on to the streets at that time would prove a major challenge.

The venue, which opened in 1998, insisted it needed the same opening hours to compete with Fantasy Palace.

The club’s manager said she was “incandescent” at the move, which she said had handed its rivals a clear advantage.

Lawyer Caroline Loudon, who represented Bottoms Up, told the board her client had successfully operated a late licence in the past without incident, asking members: “Fantasy Palace has a late licence, why is that?”

After the decision, she added: “What has happened is that our competitor has been given an advantage without any explanation from the board.”

Lothian and Borders Police, whose officers sit on the board, had voiced concerns about large crowds pouring on to Lothian Road in the early hours of the morning. Similar objections had been made by Tollcross Community Council.

Sergeant Hazel Leslie said: “Bottoms Up is not on our radar for incidents, but having 270 people emerging on to Lothian Road at 3am has huge implications for policing.”

She added: “It should be noted that Fantasy Palace was granted an exception in August.

“I am concerned [granting] this application is likely to lead to adult entertainment venues across the city seeking similar hours of operation.”

The licensing board, chaired by former lord provost Eric Milligan, did not explain the decision, but suggested extending Fantasy Palace’s opening times had been a mistake.

Board member Joanna Mowat, a Conservative councillor for the city centre who voiced objections to both bids, said: “I have great sympathy with the proprietors of Bottoms Up because we did give Fantasy Palace a late operating licence.”

All city strip clubs had been forced to close by 1am as part of a major clampdown in May 2003. Fantasy Palace then became the first sex industry club in the city to be allowed to open until 3am.

Lawyers acting for the West End bar had claimed in August that it needed to open later to compete with Glasgow, Aberdeen and Dundee and would lose business otherwise.