Lap dancing club handed licence boost despite safety concerns

Seventh Heaven is planning to relocate from Elmbank Gardens to 95 Hope Street — previously a nightclub.

Glasgow lap dancing club Seventh Heaven handed licence boost despite safety concerns STV News

A Glasgow lap dancing club has been handed a boost in its bid to move premises despite objections over the new location.

Seventh Heaven is planning to relocate from Elmbank Gardens to 95 Hope Street — previously a nightclub — and has been granted changes to the venue’s premises licence by the city’s Licensing Board.

Concerns over the move had been raised with police by Glasgow Violence Against Women Partnership — with issues including the safety of vulnerable women in the city centre and “predatory behaviour”.

The city’s health and social care partnership (HSCP) objected to the licence variation as “this part of the city centre has been an area of concern”.

However, the GMB union, which represents workers at sexual entertainment venues, backed the move as it believes it can improve safety.

Permission will also need to be secured from the city’s licensing and regulatory committee, which deals with sexual entertainment venue licences, before the club could open.

A request to extend the opening hours from 3am to 4am wasn’t approved.

Archie MacIver, representing the applicant Himshley Properties Ltd, said the club, which has traded since 2003, is moving as its lease at Elmbank Gardens is coming to an end.

He said the application was to “knock that licence into shape to allow a lap dancing bar” at the Hope Street site.

A Police Scotland representative said the Glasgow Violence Against Women Partnership had voiced concerns regarding the “safety of vulnerable women within Glasgow city centre” and near a major transport hub, Glasgow Central Station.

He added other issues raised included “human trafficking, gender inequality, predatory behaviour, vulnerable youths and groups congregating at the ‘Four Corners’, high risk individuals accommodated in nearby hotels” and rough sleepers, who are assisted by charities.

The Licensing Board heard how Andrew Cox, from Seventh Heaven, told police that any “unacceptable behaviour would be addressed” and safety at the venue was a “priority”.

He was happy for the partnership to meet performers, without management present, the police statement added.

A HSCP spokeswoman said the current rate of alcohol related hospital admissions in the location “is 159% above that of the Scottish rate”.

“This part of the city centre has been an area of concern for Glasgow City HSCP, Glasgow City Alcohol and Drugs Partnership and the city council for a considerable number of years,” she added.

She asked the board to consider “whether this is a suitable premises to be licensed” and if it compromised “the licensing objectives of protecting and improving public health and protecting children and young persons from harm”.

The GMB spokeswoman said sexual entertainment venues are a “vital part” of Glasgow’s night-time economy and “one of the many reasons that people are attracted to the city”.

She added: “The move to Hope Street offers better facilities for dancers and improved access to transport home, with an adjacent taxi rank and transport links.

“This will make dancers and other staff safer in getting to and from their workplaces.”

Anyone deemed to have “consumed excess alcohol” is “strictly monitored and dealt with on a zero-tolerance basis”, the union rep said, adding there is “a much higher bar than set in regular bars and clubs”.

She said: “Whether sex work does take place at the Four Corners, no equivalence can be drawn between those who solicit sex work in public and those who work in the safety of a regulated sexual entertainment venue.”

Mr MacIver said there is already a “robust” policing policy in the area and Police Scotland did not object to the application.

The club has policies “coming out of their ears, covering everything under the sun”, he said, including a code of conduct for members of the public.

He added the nightclub had been licensed for over 500 people while the lap dancing club’s request was “coming down to 300”.

Other lap dancing clubs are “if anything closer” to hotels being used by vulnerable people, Mr MacIver said, and there is “no information to suggest the use of those existing premises is causing any difficulties”.

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