Edinburgh council taxpayers have shelled out more than £100,000 in legal fees in a failed attempt by the local government to ban strip clubs.
Attorneys representing strippers and the clubs they work for have faced the City’s attempt Edinburgh The council set the number of sex entertainment venues at zero – part of an unlimited policy that would effectively ban them – when it made a judicial review against the policy.
The council revealed that it has so far paid £117,011 in legal fees for the review, which has seen Lord Richardson rule that the policy is illegal after a two-long hearing date at the Court Session.
The figures, disclosed using freedom of information, also show that six members of the panel participated in the judicial review.
In addition, the council said the amount the government must pay to the opposition has yet to be confirmed.
The Battle to keep Edinburgh’s four strip clubs open was launched in March 2022 when the city council’s executive committee voted to determine the appropriate level of sex entertainment venues in the capital to be 0.
Strippers told councilors at the meeting of their fears if it were passed and how they felt it would push women into prostitution, but were approved with vote ratio from 5 to 4.
During the judicial review, the panel argued that the restriction policy does not prohibit clubs but sets a level it deems appropriate and permits a rebuttable presumption.
But Lord Richardson said the council would only look at the number of sex entertainment venues in the area and then consider the number it deems appropriate, which is set at zero.
“In the event that the first number is equal to or greater than the second, the ground will apply and therefore the local government must reject the application,” he said in his ruling earlier this year.
Lord Richardson said the council had not given “good reason why the wrong decision should not be overturned”, and added that the executive committee had been “clearly advised that making zero decisions will only create a refutable assumption that could ultimately lead to the closure of existing facilities.”
He went on to rule: “I think there is a real possibility that, if properly consulted, a different decision could have been made.
“It seems to me that if I decided otherwise, I would be violating the decision that was entrusted to me. [to the council].”
A spokesman for Edinburgh City Council said: “It would be inappropriate to comment on legal action.
“A report will be sent to the regulatory committee in May outlining a 12-week consultation regarding the policy review on sexual entertainment venues.
“Following consultation, the responses will be collated and reviewed by the councilors against the new licensing plan to be implemented by December 31, 2023.”