A decision was taken that will ensure sexual entertainment venues cannot operate freely in Dumfries and Galloway.
Council solicitor Caroline Treaner warned councillors that unless they passed a resolution on proper licensing of sexual entertainment venues, they could set up in inappropriate locations, such as near schools or churches.
The lawyer said: “If no resolution is passed, the process stops here now, which means in the future sexual entertainment venues could openly operate throughout the region without regulation and control.
“So, they could just set up, come in and do what they want – and open up localities in sensitive locations, such as near schools, residential areas, place of worship.
“So, if no resolution is passed then there’s no control.”
While there are no sexual entertainment venues in Dumfries and Galloway at the moment, there are nearly 20 lapdancing clubs running elsewhere in Scotland,
The council legal chief produced a report for yesterday’s communities committee, recommending that councillors take action now to get regulations in place in case any sexual entertainment businesses try to set up here in future.
She explained that if the license was agreed, the next step would be a consultation where members of the public could have a say on any future developments.
Annandale North Councillor Adam Wilson said: “There has been a bit of misunderstanding as to why we would do this process, but I absolutely think that we should pass the resolution.
“As a council we need to have that ability to determine if it is suitable or not suitable depending on what the view is of members on those particular panels.
“Just to make it crystal clear to the public, we’re doing this process to protect the interests of everybody in the region and not necessarily to encourage these venues to come here.”
Abbey Councillor Ian Blake agreed, adding: “It’s not an encouragement of licensing sexual entertainment venues, it’s merely trying to manage the situation.”
Committee chairman, Councillor Andy Ferguson, said: “We have a piece of work to do here for the general public to make sure they understand exactly what the purpose of this paper is, and what the next steps are.”
It was unanimously agreed to pass the resolution for a licensing process to be set up should any sexual entertainment venues attempt to open up in the region in future.
Given that it must be at least one year before the new licensing regime comes into effect, the date of January 1, 2023 has been chosen.
A public consultation was held last year seeking opinions on sexual entertainment venues and 157 responses were received.
People were asked if such businesses should be licenced and why, with 71 per cent saying they should.
Some respondents said the businesses could boost the economy while licensing premises would protect workers.
However, some called SEVs, which could include lapdancing clubs, “tasteless”, “sleazy” and “disgusting and degrading”.