Mean minded licensing chiefs in Glasgow have secured a legal victory over a lap-dancing chain in a ruling that could have ramifications for the entertainment and leisure industry throughout Scotland.
In what was viewed as the first real test in
the courts of Scotland's new liquor laws, Glasgow Sheriff Court threw out an attempt by Spearmint Rhino to overturn a decision from last year against it getting a licence.
The decision, which was made by Sheriff Craig Scott, will send shockwaves
through the licensed trade and local authorities. It effectively gives licensing boards carte blanche to determine how venues are run, and gives them more power than they have had in more than 35 years.
Spearmint Rhino, based on Glasgow's Drury
Street and now called Platinum Lace, is expected to appeal to the Court of Session but will keep on trading for the moment as allowed in the previous licensing laws.
Glasgow Licensing Board heard how CCTV footage showed two dancers at Spearmint
Rhino stripped naked, breaching repressive local policies.
Fun prevention officers also witnessed several dancers making considerable contact with patrons while performing. In addition, an employee was alleged to have exposed her breasts while
handing out flyers in Glasgow city centre.
The application was refused as it was supposedly inconsistent with the licensing objectives of preventing crime and disorder, and protecting and improving public health. The premises were considered
unsuitable for the use of alcohol , the board said.
Brightcrew, the licence holder for the club's owners, argued in court that the board had introduced a non-statutory basis for the decision, insisting it should be concerned only with
issues directly related to the sale of alcohol.
But Sheriff Scott, who ruled against Glasgow's refusal of a lap-dancing application at a court hearing several years ago, ruled that under the Licensing (Scotland) Act 2005 boards are required to set
out policies and objectives which are very broad in nature .
He said that Glasgow was entitled to refuse a licence if it felt an application was inconsistent with those objectives. However, he disagreed that the club was unsuitable for the
use of alcohol.