Licensing specialist questions legal parocess behind White Bill
A SECOND attempt to allow councils to ban lap dancing clubs is unlikely to cause existing venues to close, a leading lawyer claimed last week.
Sandra White, the SNP MSP for Glasgow Kelvin, has revived her bid to empower local authorities to impose blanket bans on adult entertainment venues in their area, after her previous attempt was defeated in parliament in 2010.
Believing lap dancing clubs to be “exploitative”, “demeaning to women” and sometimes linked to criminal activity, White’s private member’s Bill would allow councils to choose whether adult entertainment venues should be allowed.
Where authorities give consent to their operation, the MSP says they should be licensed in the manner they are in England and Wales, where they are classified similarly to sex shops.
“If you are a local authority and the feeling of the general public and the authority is that they don’t want lap dancing clubs in their vicinity, then I think you are duty bound to serve your constituents,” she told SLTN.
“I think they are all exploitative and make women look like objects who are just there for men’s gratification. I don’t want any of these clubs in the city of Glasgow. I’ve had this stance for a number of years and Glasgow City Council is also of the same mind.”
White, who hopes to consult on her proposal before the end of the year, with a view to introducing the Bill to parliament in February or March, said the Scottish justice minister, Kenny MacAskill, supported the move.
But doubt was cast last week on the legal process by which such a ban would be brought in. Licensing specialist Jack Cummins said the move would require a major change to the Licensing (Scotland) Act 2005, under which lap dancing clubs operate, and can’t see how White’s move could close premises already trading.
“In last year’s landmark Brightcrew appeal by adult entertainment operators, the Court of Session ruled that the essential function of a licensing board was the sale of alcohol,” he told SLTN.
“The sort of controls Sandra White seems to be looking for would require significant surgery to the Licensing (Scotland) Act 2005.
“It also seems to me disingenuous to propose a ‘licensing system’ for adult entertainment venues when the real purpose of White’s move is to effect a blanket ban driven by a ‘zero tolerance’ approach.
“I simply cannot conceive of any new legislation resulting in the closure of existing clubs.”