THERE'S been a call for strip clubs and lap dancing bars to be banned from operating in Fife.

The issue of licensing sexual entertainment venues was raised at last week's community and housing services sub-committee.

During an update from the Fife Violence Against Women Partnership, Councillor Fiona Grant asked: "Can we look further at making a council policy not to have premises encouraging prostitution, lap dancing, stripping or pornography in Fife?"

Committee convener, Cllr Judy Hamilton, said: "When we had a new club open in Kirkcaldy we spoke to council officers.

"There's a quasi-judicial process that doesn't take opinions, it's all facts so Sheila (Noble) and I were quite involved in it and found we didn't really have any say in terms of licensing."

Ms Noble, co-ordinator of the Fife Violence Against Women Partnership, said: "That was the case and quite a lot of work has been done to try and change that at a national level.

"My understanding is that local authorities are now in a position to decide that they can set a limit on sexual entertainment venues in their area and it's possible to set it at zero.

"So there is potential going forward to address that in the way you're suggesting Cllr Grant."

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

As a result, the council launched a consultation last March to ask the public for their views on strip clubs and lap dancing bars in the Kingdom.

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."

Last year, Ms Noble had told the Press: "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."

She added: "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 10 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.