There will be no limit on the number of Sex Entertainment Venues (SEVs) that can apply for a licence in the Highlands, councillors agreed on Tuesday.
In October, members of Highland Council’s licensing committee agreed to implement a licensing regime for SEVs.
The terms of this licensing plan went out to public consultation and received a mixed response. Nearly half of respondents said no area in Highland is suitable for an SEV.
Inverness Women’s Aid asked the council to set a zero limit on SEV licences across Highland, as did Resist Porn Culture.
Both groups said sex entertainment venues are discriminatory and lead to sexual exploitation of women.
On the other hand, United Voices of the World, which represents performers, said licensing helps to protect workers and drive better conditions.
Members were asked to decide whether to divide the licensing area up or treat Highland as one licensing area. Councillors opted for the latter approach.
They were then asked whether it was proportionate to set a ‘zero’ limit on the number of SEVs.
Setting the number to zero would introduce a presumption against granting a licence. However, new applicants could still make a case for an exemption.
Councillor Liz MacDonald argued for a limit of one, since there is currently one SEV operating in Highland: Private Eyes Gentleman’s Club in Inverness.
Cllr MacDonald felt this would offer some protection for employees of SEVs. Council officers also recommended that council set the limit to one.
However, no members spoke in favour of a cap of zero or one.
Chairman Andrew Jarvie said there should be no cap on the number of applications, and members agreed this proposal.
The SEV licence plan will now go out to a second public consultation.
By local democracy reporter Nicola Sinclair