Dancers welcome lap dancing club's successful licence bid

The union has said the award of a sexual entertainment venue licence will secure jobs and improve safety.

Glasgow dancers welcome Seventh Heaven lap dancing club’s successful licence bid STV News

Dancers have welcomed a council decision to grant lap dancing club Seventh Heaven a licence for a new city centre site.

The GMB union which represents dancers has said the award of a sexual entertainment venue (SEV) licence for premises at 95 Hope Street will secure jobs and improve safety.

The city’s health and social partnership and Glasgow Violence Against Women Partnership had raised concerns over the location. They are worried about the “safety of vulnerable women” within the city centre, especially near Glasgow Central station. 

However, the GMB, which represents Seventh Heaven staff, supported the move from the venue’s current Elmbank Gardens venue, where the lease is expiring.

After the decision, Megara Furie, a union rep, said: “This decision secures the livelihoods of our members and strengthens the productive relationship already established between the dancers and the council.

“The union will continue to be recognised in the new venue ensuring the voice of dancers and other staff continues to be front and centre. It is an exciting opportunity for staff to collaborate with management on the design of a new facility to create a club that works for everyone.

“Meanwhile, being closer to transport links will improve safety for staff on their way to work and returning home.”

Last year, the council ruled no new sexual entertainment venues would be allowed in Glasgow but the three current premises — Seventh Heaven, Diamond Dolls and Platinum Lace — could stay open under ‘grandfather rights’.

Seventh Heaven was recently granted a licence to sell alcohol from the new Hope Street venue by the city’s Licensing Board, and appeared before the licensing committee on Wednesday over the SEV licence bid.

Police Scotland held discussions with the club and those opposed to the move ahead of the council meeting. It did not submit an objection to the licence application.

An officer told councillors how the Glasgow Violence Against Women Partnership had raised concerns over “human trafficking, gender inequality, predatory behaviour, vulnerable youths and groups congregating at the ‘Four Corners’”.

The partnership also discussed “high risk individuals accommodated in nearby hotels” and rough sleepers who are assisted by charities.

A spokeswoman for partnership said Hope Street is “incredibly busy” and it is “concerned that the presence of a SEV may not contribute to public safety and wellbeing”.

“We also think it undermines the city council’s ambition for Glasgow to become a feminist city,” she said.

He also met with Andrew Cox, from Seventh Heaven, who highlighted customer and performer codes of conduct and said any “unacceptable behaviour would be addressed”. Mr Cox said he was happy for objectors to meet with performers without management present.

Archie MacIver, the licensing lawyer representing Seventh Heaven, said the club has traded since 2003 “without causing issue to anyone as far as we’re aware”.

He added there “doesn’t seem to be any evidence to support that such premises cause the issues alluded to in the representations”, and there are “already two licensed premises of this nature in this vicinity” but he is not aware of “any difficulties of the type envisaged”.

Cllr Alex Wilson, SNP, who chairs the licensing committee, said the club had been transparent during consultation on grandfather rights.

He said: “There was not a place we couldn’t go. They didn’t hand pick anyone for us to talk to us. We spoke with four dancers and every one of them said ‘we felt safe’, ‘we felt valued’. It was exceptionally refreshing.”

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