D-Day for Leeds lap dancing industry – first club goes before licensing panel today

It’s D-Day for the Leeds lap dancing industry as the first of the city’s seven clubs goes before Leeds City Council’s Licensing Committee this morning.

All of the city centre’s functioning lap dancing clubs are having to reapply for their licences after they were reclassified as “sexual entertainment venues”.

But the city’s eight MPs, a number of councillors and religious leaders have mounted a campaign calling on Leeds City Council to reduce the number of clubs by half or ban them completely.

The Liberté “Gentlemen’s Club” in York Place kicks off proceedings at 10.00 this morning  (Monday 11th June) when it goes before a panel of five councillors on the licensing committee. The other six applications will be heard later this week.

How many clubs and where?

Campaigners Judith Cummins, Cllr Kamila Maqsood, Cllr Rebecca Charlwood, Rachel Reeves MP, Cllr Alison Lowe and Fabian Hamilton MP

The campaigners want the clubs banned from operating in shopping streets, main thoroughfares or near civic buildings or places of worship. The seven clubs currently operate from premises on the Headrow (two), York Place (two), Sovereign Place, Wellington St, and New Briggate.

They also want an end to clubs using cars to tout for business and using women as “promotional tools”.

The Council’s “Statement of Licensing Policy for Sex Establishments” doesn’t set a limit or “desired location” for sex establishments but leaves each application to be considered on its own merits.

Dancers and Performers Welfare Policy

Liberte club exterior

What the policy does stipulate, however, is a series of “standard conditions” governing such issues as:  the external appearance and layout of the premises; advertising; management; safety and security;  staff welfare, including fining and pricing policies; codes of conduct for customers and entertainers; and the use of vessels (no? me neither), stalls and vehicles.

So, each application is a pretty weighty tome, given that they’ve all got to demonstrate they’ve got all the right in-house polices in place to meet those conditions.

For Liberté, for example, there’s a lengthy “Dancers and Performers Welfare Policy” (which forbids inter alia “lewd and lascivious behaviour”), a brief “Code of Conduct for Customers”, House Rules, VIP Rules, a Flyering Policy, information about trades unions, a Drugs Awareness Training Guide etc etc

Academic warns of “driving industry underground”

Ann Summers shop exterior

Amongst the evidence that’s being put forward by Liberté – and since it’s the first it’ll be interesting to see how it’s received – are a series of photos of the Ann Summers shop front in Leeds City Centre.

One can only presume that they’re going to argue a “one rule for all” point about the selling of sex to passers-by on the street.

One letter of support for the Liberté application comes from a senior Leeds University academic, who argues that an outright ban on the clubs would have a negative impact on some 750 people (500 of them women) at a time of recession.

Reader in Sociology Dr Teela Sanders says that her research into lap-dancing – the largest study carried out in the UK – indicates a ban would “drive the industry underground into unregulated venues which poses safety issues for dancers and public order issues”.

Dr Sanders argues that a ban would also “silence the voices and opinions of the vast majority of female dancers (young women under 30) who make choices to engage in the industry as a flexible, relatively high earning form of work in very difficult economic times”.


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3 Responses to D-Day for Leeds lap dancing industry – first club goes before licensing panel today

  1. First of all, if religious leaders wish to voice their concerns I hope they’re opinions are valued just as much as those of Joe Public. Just because they believe in that some zombie carpenter died for our sins gives them no extra weight in this kind of policy.

    As for the lap dancing industry…I wrote a feature on this about seven years ago when I first worked for The Leeds Guide. As I understand it the industry has gone up and down a bit since but little has changed. When interviewing the girls it was obvious that some really had their heads screwed on while others were in way of theirs. The venues also seemed to operate under a host of regulations then let alone now under these new rules, one might argue that regulations are tighter for these venues then the city’s clubs and bars. Also the Anne Summers comparison is perfectly valid.

    So long as these venues are working within the law then I think they should be judged along with other entertainment venues in the city. Due to tighter security (and possibly the expensive drink prices) I think you’ll also find these venues are a lesser strain on the police for drunk and disorderly conduct than the likes of Yates’ and Tiger Tiger.

  2. The Great Smell Of Brute says:

    The quality, quantity and sources of objections to the licence renewals has been fairly predictable:

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