DANCERS have said they have been let down by a decision to launch a second consultation into the future of Glasgow's lap dancing clubs.

A council committee yesterday voted to make sexual entertainment venues (SEV) in the city subject to a licensing regime.

Rather than set a limit to the number of licences available for clubs, the Licensing and Regulatory Committee said a further 18 month consultation should now begin.

READ MORE: Megara column: Dancer's work was superhuman

This will consider what a licensing regime for the clubs should look like and detail how many licences are appropriate for Glasgow.

While dancers welcomed the decision to regulate SEVs they expressed dismay at a second consultation.

Megara, who has helped spearhead a campaign to save Glasgow's clubs and helped dancers unionise with GMB Scotland, said: "The number of licenses was the key thing we needed to know in order to allow dancers to breathe again safely in the knowledge they have a secure job to go to when the pandemic ends."

The Scottish Government granted powers to local authorities to licence SEVs and cap the number of licences.

Dancers feared Glasgow City Council would set the number at zero and effectively shut the venues.

A wide-ranging consultation process that ran for 12 weeks over summer 2019 drew 279 responses, one of the largest ever for a licensing consultation, and saw 102 submissions from dancers.

The new licensing regime is now scheduled to come into effect on September 24, 2022.

The three existing Glasgow lap dancing clubs are expected to be granted licences by the city council under a "grandfather clause".

During yesterday's committee meeting members of the licensing committee raised concerns that SEVs allowed men to “treat women as a commodity.”

This echoed concerns from women's charities, as outlined in the consultation document.

Organisations such as Rape Crisis, SayWomen, Glasgow Violence Against Women partnership and the Daisy Project were of the view that lap dancing is a form of violence against women.

Councillor Aileen McKenzie said: “The legislation put to us by the Scottish Government isn’t really fit for purpose and there should be specific legislation for around sexual entertainment.

“We should be setting the number at zero and I think we should have further public consultation on that.

"We are now hearing that there are other premises that could fall under this act.

“I do think that lap dancing is sex work and is a man paying for a women’s body like it’s a commodity.

"I do want to protect all the women we have working in this industry who I respect.

“I think there is a need for these venues to be licensed.”

The consultation also found that there was no evidence that sexual entertainment venues (SEVs) contribute to crime and disorderly behaviour in the city.

Councillor Rhiannon Spear said that if SEVs were to be outlawed, robust processes should be put in place for women exiting the industry with access to training and alternative work free from stigma.

Ms Spear, who previously invited dancers to the City Chambers to consult with them and hear their views, said she is an "abolitionist" but did not believe now is the time to ban SEVs.

She said: “I think too often when we legislate around women, particularly around sex work, politicians choose to ignore the voices of the very women it will impact and that is not the case here.

Glasgow Times: Councillor Rhiannon SpearCouncillor Rhiannon Spear

“The problem is we live in a patriarchal society where sex is a commodity.

"This legislation is not enough, setting the number of venues at zero and removing these safe venues would only in my opinion push the women into less regulated sites.

“I am an abolitionist but today is not the day to set it at zero.”

Chairman Alex Wilson said he agreed and said that the legislation is not “fit for purpose and didn’t go far enough”.

A spokesman for the council said: “Members of the committee unanimously agreed that sexual entertainment venues in Glasgow should be licensed.

"Further work is still required to establish what would be involved in a licensing regime for venues in the city and we will be consulting on this in due course.

"Looking at the conditions that may be applied in relation to venues will help to determine how many SEV licences it would be suitable to have for the city.”