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Edinburgh could end sauna licensing

12 November 2013

Edinburgh City Council could drop its longstanding practice of granting public entertainment licences to saunas and massage parlours where sex is for sale, if a report to councillors is adopted.

A meeting on Friday (15 November) will decide whether to put to public consultation a proposal that premises be allowed to operate without a licence, but still subject to health and safety inspections, and monitoring by police.

Edinburgh is the only Scottish city to operate a licensing scheme in this way, under a policy dating from the 1980s aimed at preventing the spread of HIV/Aids by regulating the sex business. However at the last round of renewals, six of the 13 premises lost their licences following police objections and the report to councillors points to the risk of legal challenges both in individual cases and to the policy as a whole.

Scot-Pep, a charity that supports sex workers, fears that the move could reduce the level of protection for them.

The proposed timescale would result in the licensing scheme ending in February.

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