Council agrees hardline licensing approach to lap dancing bars

Angus Council to enforce 'zero-presumption' rule to require would-be club owners to justify businesses beyond reproach.

Council agrees hardline licensing approach to lap dancing bars iStock

Lap dancing bars and other adult entertainment venues have been all but banned in Angus under a new strategy the council says will protect women.

Under new rules agreed by councillors on Thursday, the region will enforce a “zero-presumption” rule that will require would-be club owners to justify their businesses beyond reproach before being allowed to open.

The hardline approach to so-called sexual entertainment venues (SEVs) has been informed by feedback from Police Scotland, the Angus Violence Against Women Partnership, women’s support service WRASAC and members of the public.

In a report to the local civic licensing committee, head of legal and democratic services Jackie Buchanan said: “The general presumption is that there will be zero sexual entertainment venues in Angus and in each of the relevant localities.”

The council has included a number of additional conditions for lap dancing bars that will be considered unbreachable in all but the most extraordinary circumstances.

Venues will not be allowed to open within 800 metres of “sensitive” premises such as schools, libraries, council offices, shopping areas and places of worship unless applicants can justify an exemption.

Anyone seeking permission to open a lap dancing bar must provide extensive CCTV, records showing rights to work to prevent human trafficking, and would have to guarantee performers’ safety on and when leaving the premises.

Councils were given the power to enforce rules exclusively for SEVs – venues hosting “sexual entertainment” more than four times a year – under new legislation introduced in 2015.

While Angus has no such venues at present, the council says the rules will protect potential performers and customers and prevent crime and disorder.

Elsewhere in Scotland the move to tightly control and monitor adult venues has won support from a number of dancers and trade union GMB.

Separate rules will be introduced to guard the licensing of sex shops, which are being regulated for the first time ever.

Individuals or businesses wanting to open shops selling sexual articles will now have to apply for a licence in the same in the same way that pubs and restaurants do for alcohol.

The new rules will come into force in August.

By local democracy reporter Jon Brady

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