New laws that will prevent sex clubs from opening in East Lothian could be in place by January of next year.
Licensing officials today approved plans to develop a Sexual Entertainment Sites (SEV) policy that will see the number of acceptable sites in the county capped at zero.
Councilor Colin McGinn, chairman of the council’s licensing subcommittee, said the decision was made to “protect our citizens.”
The committee was urged to give officers the green light to develop a licensing policy for SEVs after legal advisers warned that a lack of policy would allow clubs and venues to open without any oversight across the county. .
Local authority legal counsel Ian Forrest told the committee he did not expect “a sudden increase in the number of sexual entertainment venues in East Lothian”.
But he was backed by the Scottish Police when he said that not having a policy prevented them from taking action.
The committee was asked to indicate how many locations it would allow to open under the new policy and voted unanimously for zero.
The ruling means that once the new policy, which is due to be introduced in 12 months, SEVs will be banned in East Lothian.
A public consultation on the views on the sites, which will cover everything from strip clubs to swingers parties, saw broad support for the introduction of a licensing policy.
When asked where people might find a suitable location for clubs and venues in East Lothian, the majority who named a location said Musselburgh – in the west of the county.
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Residents of the county’s wealthiest east insisted their towns would not be suitable, with Gullane, North Berwick and Dunbar all being excluded by attendees.
The vast majority of people who responded told council they didn’t think any place would be suitable for sex venues in East Lothian, but if somewhere had to, they said Musselburgh would be the place to be. more appropriate.
When asked which locations were unsuitable for such sites, the responses were: “Gullane, North Berwick, Dunbar”; “wherever you thought you would put them” and even “the rest of East Lothian except Musselburgh”.
The committee unanimously agreed to have a licensing policy developed while indicating that it wanted zero to be the number of licenses that would be authorized under it.
Councilor McGinn said: “We are here to make decisions that protect our citizens and I think it is such a decision.