What is happening?

A change in the Law on 26 April 2019 means that Councils can decide to require the operators of Sexual Entertainment Venues (“SEVs”) to apply to the Council for a Licence.

The most common example of a SEV is a lap-dancing club. There are no SEVs in North Ayrshire, and there is no plan to open one in North Ayrshire. There are clubs in some of the cities or larger towns in Scotland.

At the moment SEVs do not need a Licence, and the new Law does not mean that they do. Instead of banning SEVs altogether, the Scottish Parliament has left it for each Council in Scotland to decide whether or not to introduce a new licensing system. The decision is called a “Resolution”. The first question for North Ayrshire Council is “should a Resolution be made?”

The Council is asking the public to give views on this. The Licensing Committee will meet on 21 August 2019, and it will then consider any written statements setting out a view.

Committee Meetings are often held in private, but when the Committee meets to decide the SEV Resolution question, that part of the meeting will be open to the public and the Committee will accept oral representations.

The Committee will then decide either to make a Resolution or not to do so.

What happens next?

This depends on what the Committee have decided:

If there is a Resolution:

The Resolution will come into force 12 months later. Anyone who wants to operate a SEV will need to apply for a Licence. The Council will have to publish a “Licensing Policy Statement” explaining how the Council plan to make decisions, and there will be a further public consultation on what that should contain.

Although a Resolution means that the Council has decided that, in principle, there could be a SEV somewhere in North Ayrshire, the Council can make a Resolution and still decide either
– there will no SEVs anywhere in North Ayrshire, or
– there will be some localities in North Ayrshire where SEVs will be prohibited
(for example, within a set distance of schools, residential areas and places
of worship).

The “Licensing Policy Statement” would cover this.

If there is no Resolution

It will still be the case that someone wanting to have a SEV in North Ayrshire,
now or in the future, will not need a Licence. There will be nothing that the
Council can do to stop this. Most SEVs would have a separate Licence for
selling alcohol. This would be issued by the Licensing Board, but by Law the
Board cannot deal with SEV Licensing.

What does a “Licensing Policy Statement” do?

At this stage, the Committee is simply asking the question “Should there be a Resolution – yes or no?”

If the Committee decides “yes”, there will be a second question, and this means we will later consult the public again. We will be asking for public views about what the Committee’s “Licensing Policy Statement” should say. This will deal with other questions, for example “should there be localities in North Ayrshire where there will be no SEVs, and (if so) where?”

The Law and Government Policy

One of the main pieces of legislation about Licensing is the Civic Government (Scotland) Act 1982. This law already deals with Licences for Taxis, Street Traders, Public Entertainment and many other things. It was extended by the Air Weapons and Licensing (Scotland) Act 2015. One of the provisions of the 2015 Act is Section 76, which introduced Licensing of SEVs.

Although the 2015 Act was passed by the Scottish Parliament in 2015, Section 76 was not commenced until 26th April 2019, so Councils were not able to decide whether or not to make a Resolution to bring in SEV Licensing until then.

In North Ayrshire, the first Meeting of the Licensing Committee after that date was on 8th May 2019. The Licensing Committee that day decided to start the public consultation leading to a decision on whether or not to make a Resolution.

All legislation and policy documents are freely available on Government websites.

The SEV legislation is at:
http://www.legislation.gov.uk/asp/2015/10/section/76/enacted

The Scottish Government has issued Guidance to Councils on applying this legislation:
https://www.gov.scot/publications/guidance-provisions-licensing-sexual-entertainment-venues-changes-licensing-theatres/pages/2/

The legislation is relevant to two Scottish Government Policies:

“Equally Safe: A Delivery Plan for Scotland’s strategy to prevent and eradicate violence against women and girls” :
https://www.gov.scot/publications/equally-safe-delivery-plan-scotlands-strategy-prevent-violence-against-women/

“Trafficking and Exploitation Strategy” :
https://www.gov.scot/publications/trafficking-exploitation-strategy/

The Council’s Licensing Committee would like to know your views. Please complete and return the below response form by Wednesday 14 August 2019.

Consultation Response Form