East Lothian councillors vote to ban sex clubs

Thursday January 13th 2022

East-Lothian-Council


Written by Local Democracy Reporter, Marie Sharp

New laws which will stop sex clubs opening in East Lothian could be in place by January next year.

Licensing bosses today approved plans to draw up a Sex Entertainments Venue (SEV) policy which will se the number of acceptable venues in the county restricted to zero.

Councillor Colin McGinn, chairman of the council’s licensing sub-committee, said the decision had been taken to “protect our citizens”.

The committee was asked to give officers the go ahead to draw up a licensing policy for SEVs after legal advisers warned a lack of policy would allow clubs and venues to open without any controls across the county.

The local authority’s legal adviser Ian Forrest told the committee he was not expecting “a sudden surge of sex entertainment venues to open across East Lothian.”

But he was backed by Police Scotland when he said not having a policy left them unable to act.

The committee was asked to indicate how many venues it would allow to open under the new policy and unanimously voted for zero.

The decision means once the new policy, which is due to be introduced in 12 months time, is introduced SEVs will be banned across East Lothian.

A public consultation on views over the venues, which will cover everything from strip clubs to swingers parties saw broad support for a licensing policy to be introduced.

When asked where people thought a suitable location for the clubs and venues could be in East Lothian the majority who named a place pointed to Musselburgh in the west of the county.

Residents in the more affluent east of the county insisted their towns would not be suitable with Gullane, North Berwick and Dunbar all ruled out by those taking part.

The vast majority of people responding told the council they did not believe anywhere was suitable for sex venues in East Lothian but if somewhere had to have then they said Musselburgh would be the most appropriate place.

When asked which locations were unsuitable for such venues responses included: “Gullane, North Berwick, Dunbar”; “wherever you’re thinking of putting them” and even “the rest of East Lothian except for Musselburgh.”

The committee unanimously agreed to have a licensing policy drawn up while indicating it wanted zero to be the number of licences which would be allowed under it.

Councillor Mc Ginn said: “We are here to take decisions which protect our citizens and I think this is such a decision.”

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