WEST FIFERS will be asked for their views about strip clubs and lap dancing bars in the Kingdom.

Fife Council will hold a consultation about licensing sexual entertainment venues – and it could effectively lead to a ban with the Fife Violence Against Women Partnership decrying the business as "commercial sexual exploitation".

At present, there is one Fife venue that offers 'adult entertainment', a strip club in Kirkcaldy, although Dunfermline previously had a lap dancing bar on James Street.

Dunfermline councillor Garry Haldane, who is on the regulation and licensing committee, explained: "At present, anyone can open a bar and then provide sexual adult entertainment which does not need a separate licence and therefore it is unregulated.

"The thought behind taking this to consultation is to be able to adopt a policy for this type of entertainment.

"Although we may end up with a sexual entertainment policy, it is within our remit to allow NO establishments to operate."

Legislation brought in by the Scottish Government allows councils to limit the number of sex entertainment venues. They could set it at zero.

Cllr Haldane continued: "If we do not adopt a policy, there is a threat that more unlicensed premises will open up due to nearby authorities having a sexual entertainment licence policy and Fife not having one.

"All relevant groups will be asked to comment as well as the workers from the Kirkcaldy establishment.

"Just because we are taking this step it does not mean that Fife will have sexual entertainment licences.

"This is to prevent abuse, exploitation and trafficking, which may well be a side avenue in this type of work."

Sheila Noble, co-ordinator for the Fife Violence Against Women Partnership, said: "The partnership is opposed to all forms of commercial sexual exploitation including prostitution, lap dancing, stripping, pornography and trafficking.

"It recognises these forms of sexual exploitation as harmful to women both as individuals and to society.

"The new legislation offers the opportunity for local authorities to license sexual entertainment venues, including for the people of Fife to decide that they want NO sexual entertainment venues in the Kingdom.

"We would encourage respondents to consider the risk to women performers and the general public.

"Research shows performers are often pressured for sexual favours and physical contact, they experience sexual harassment both within and outwith premises and may have been subject to human trafficking."

The lap dancing club in Dunfermline, Private Eyes, closed nine years ago. When it opened in 2007, in the former Robins cinema building on East Port, the club was told to "pack up and go home" by then local MP Willie Rennie, who called it "sleazy, so-called entertainment". There was also opposition from church leaders and local people.

It closed in 2011 and became Club Tropicana, an eighties-themed bar which also later shut.

The empty building is currently up for sale.

Councillor Carol Lindsay, committee convener, said: "The consultation will allow us to ask whether sexual entertainment venues in Fife should be licensed; if licensed, what the appropriate number of sexual entertainment venues for Fife should be; and what should be included in a sexual entertainment venue policy statement.

"The results will then be reported back to the committee for members to consider and if approved officers will draft a policy statement for approval."