Lapdancers in Edinburgh have shared their relief after a second attempt to ban strip clubs in the city was defeated.
The authority’s Labour administration moved to introduce a ‘nil cap’ on sexual entertainment venues – which would force them to shut down – amid concerns they increase violence against women.
However it was voted down by seven votes to two – meaning the three existing venues can continue operating.
It means a new regime to regulate sexual entertainment venues will be set up, requiring club owners to seek a licence.
It comes nearly two years after councillors voted to set the maximum number of venues at zero – a move which was successfully challenged in court by dancers and cost taxpayers over £200,000 in legal fees and expenses.
Alexis has worked as a stripper in Edinburgh for 16 years and represents the Sex Workers Union (SWU).
She told STV News: “We’ve been fighting for this since 2018 to finally have this decision. It’s really exciting news for us, without going back and having it challenged again.
“It’s been extremely stressful. It’s frustrating saying the same things over and over again and no one listens.
“We need to be able to choose our line of work. It might not fit in morally with what other people think but we’re living our own lives.
“It feeds into misogyny about what we can and can’t do. It’s our bodies, our choice.
“I feel far safer in a strip club than I do any other bar.”
Edinburgh dancer Teagan added: “I’m over the moon. It’s great they’ve listened to us.
“The uncertainty has caused us a lot of anxiety. It has prevented us from moving on with our lives and making decisions with the possibility of losing our jobs.
“We’re all adults, we choose to work in this industry. When that choice is taken away it sends a negative message.”
In 2022, councillors voted to effectively ban strip clubs in the capital by attempting to set the number of sexual entertainment venues to zero which was later overturned following a legal challenge by campaigners.
In a second failed attempt to ban the venues this week, councillors voted to allow the three existing establishments in the city to continue operating – a result that has been welcomed by the industry.
Alexis said it’s “important” the council works with the venues and the union to keep the industry safe.
Alexis said: “They said a dancer-led club would be taken into consideration. They seem to be open to opening another club it if the business proposal was there – that’s very forward-thinking of them.
“We should be keeping these options open to business owners.
“I’m glad they’ve finally listened to our concerns.”
Some campaigners support the idea that strip clubs increase violence against women and fear the outcome this week will send the wrong message.
Former Edinburgh councillor Susan Dalgety said: “It sends strong signals that women are there to be sexually exploited and there for the titilation of men.
“That’s not equality. That’s not about empowerment. That’s about the exploitation of women and girls.”
Regulatory convener, Cllr Neil Ross, said: “The council takes this issue very seriously and has listened to the views of all stakeholders.
“As convener of the Regulatory Committee, I’m satisfied today’s decision for a three cap strikes an appropriate balance and addresses the need to improve the safety of women who choose to work in these venues. We will also keep this number under review.”
STV News is now on WhatsApp
Get all the latest news from around the countryFollow STV News
Follow STV News on WhatsApp
Scan the QR code on your mobile device for all the latest news from around the country