PAISLEY has taken over from Glasgow as the sunbed capital of the United Kingdom.

The revelation coincides with Renfrewshire Council standing firm over plans to license salons - after surveys by environmental health officers uncovered concerns about conditions, and operating methods, in some tanning studios.

They range from people being burned by defective equipment to a customer being sprayed by glass shards from exploding bulbs.

They also include a fire in the cubicle of an unmanned salon where a customer, asleep on the bed, had to be wakened before reaching safety.

Council sources revealed

yesterday they are also worried at the growth of tanning studios - especially after the rising numbers in Glasgow led to claims in parliament that many were being used to launder money.

Until now, Glasgow was assumed to have the most studios per head of population in the UK, with one for every 8458 people.

However, Paisley has 16 sunbed premises, equivalent to one for every 4906 residents.

There are 33 across Renfrewshire, one for every 5393 residents. Eight - a quarter of the total - are linked to Paisley Private Hire Ltd, whose sunbed hire empire is now close to an annual turnover of (pounds) 1m.

In a submission to the council, Paisley Private Hire, trading as Tan Co, has questioned the

principle of sunbed licensing.

It warns that Renfrewshire businesses will lose out to

competitors in neighbouring areas where councils are not imposing restrictions.

Two other sunbed firms made representations - California Tan, which welcomed a licensing scheme, and Consol Suncentre, which ''generally welcomed'' proposals for regulations but warned of financial and staffing implications.

Renfrewshire Council said yesterday it would ''require'' all salons to hold public entertainment licences from April, despite Paisley Private Hire's assertion that it raised issues

of personal freedom and policing, to ensure people adhere

to guidelines on ultraviolet exposure.

The clampdown follows alarms over health risks after the Health Education Board for Scotland declared ''there is no safe way to use sunbeds''.

It also follows surveys which found 11 salons lacked washing facilities and 10 had no customer records aimed at preventing over-use by tanning fanatics.

Privately, the council acknowledged that the growth in salons - from 25 to 33 in two years - is another concern.

One source said: ''Either everyone in Paisley has a tan, or there is over-provision of sunbeds. We want controls to ensure best practice.''

Ronnie Burns, chairman of the council's regulatory functions board, stressed public health and safety was central to its campaign to regulate sunbeds.

He added: ''Pubs are already licensed, allowing talks with the trade over problems such as 'happy hours' and under-age drinking.

''Licensing salons would allow similar dialogue on tanning


Paisley Private Hire, founded in 1997, has one director - Steven Malcolm, 38, of Ralston, Paisley, who is also a director of one of the largest private hire taxi companies in the UK.

A spokesman for Mr Malcolm said he had no comment to make.