Lapdance clubs prepare to fight

Owners could launch legal challenge to new regulation

THE owners of Scotland’s lapdancing clubs could fight new legislation in the courts if measures proposed in the Air Weapons and Licensing (Scotland) Bill to regulate ‘sexual entertainment’ are made law.
Speaking to SLTN, licensing lawyer Janet Hood, who represents the Association of Licensed Adult Entertainment Venues Scotland, said there is no need to further regulate lap and pole dancing clubs.
“My clients are highly likely, if this Bill becomes an Act, to challenge it through the courts, much in the way minimum pricing has been challenged by the Scotch Whisky Association,” said Hood.
The Bill includes a section proposing the creation of a separate licensing regime for venues deemed to be providing sexual entertainment.
Included in the proposals is the ability for local authorities to set a limit for the number of venues in their area – and to set that number at zero.
No ‘grandfather rights’ would be included for existing clubs, meaning every premises would be required to apply for a licence under the new system.
The Scottish Parliament’s Local Government and Regeneration Committee last week heard evidence from sources that included women’s violence charity Zero Tolerance and the Federation of Scottish Theatre as well as Hood, on behalf of the Association of Licensed Adult Entertainment Venues Scotland.
She said the association received “an extremely fair hearing” at the parliament.
“The main thrust of what we were saying was that we do not think there is any requirement for sexual entertainment licensing as it might pertain to lapdancing or pole dancing clubs,” said Hood. “There are 17 of these clubs in Scotland and they are among the best run licensed premises in Scotland.”
Also presenting evidence was Phil Hubbard, professor of urban studies at the University of Kent, who argued that any new licensing system should be consistent between local authorities.
“If you run premises in Edinburgh and Glasgow, those two cities are going to have completely different policies,” he said. “I’d much rather the Scottish Parliament said ‘these are the rules, these are the grounds for refusing a lapdance club in a certain area, and you should treat every case on its merits’ rather than let everybody come up with a local thing.
“I’d rather they didn’t introduce this form of regulation, because I don’t think it’s necessary, but if they do introduce it I’d like it to be introduced fairly.”