Ten venues granted licenses for running saunas
A domestic abuse charity has condemned Edinburgh city council for allowing controversial ‘sex saunas’ to continue operating in the capital.
Ten venues across the city have been granted either fresh or renewed licences for running the saunas amid claims the council is turning a blind eye to prostitution.
Michele Corcoran, who runs Women’s Aid in the Stockbridge area of the city, told Holyrood: “What they’re doing is they’re colluding – they’re not following the same message as the Scottish Government, as lots of other councils in Scotland. They’re choosing to ignore what is going on within premises within the city.
“They’re certainly not adhering to the messages about violence against women that are coming from the Scottish Government and the UN, everywhere.”
Corcoran – who provides emergency accommodation to women fleeing abusive relationships – said she “occasionally” dealt with women from such situations.
She said there is “no way” the council can argue it is “protecting” women who work in the venues by allowing them to operate in the open.
Councillor Gavin Barrie, convener of the council’s Licensing Sub-Committee, said: “At the Licensing Sub-Committee of the City of Edinburgh Council, a number of applications for grant or renewal of public entertainment licences for sauna premises were heard. Following consideration of representations, the committee granted or renewed 10 applications and continued two applications.”
It is understood the two unnamed applications are being continued pending a police investigation into their activities.
An Edinburgh City Council spokeswoman said the premises are subject to inspections and the licensing committee will hear any evidence of illegality.
Edinburgh was the first city in the UK to effectively decriminalise brothels by issuing licences to saunas in 1986.
Local objectors have raised concerns after ‘customer reviews’ – rating the saunas – appeared on websites.