New policy aims to cap number of Leeds lap dance clubs following “strong public concern”

liberteweb1The number of lap-dance clubs in Leeds will be capped and the locations where they can operate severely limited if a new council policy gets the go-ahead.

Less than 18 months after its current policy on licensing sex establishments came into force, Leeds City Council has drafted a new one, based in part on interviews with “interested parties” and the findings of a survey carried out last month through its Citizens Panel.

Under the new policy, only four clubs would be allowed to get licences – there is currently no cap on the number, though seven were granted licences last year.  And no club would be allowed to operate outside the city centre – or in “sensitive areas” or near places with “sensitive uses” within the centre.

It’s not a done deal yet.

To come into effect the draft policy has to be approved by the council’s Licencing Committee when it meets next week (Tuesday 12th March). The plan is then for it to go out to public consultation, before a final draft is prepared and referred to senior councillors on the executive board for final approval.

Although it’s not spelled out, the seven clubs currently operating will presumably have to then re-apply (and compete) for the limited number of licences under the new, stricter terms. If they can find a part of the city centre to operate in that isn’t “sensitive”, that is.

“Sensitive” locations

The Headrow opposite Library/Art Gallery - "Sensitive area"?

The Headrow opposite Library/Art Gallery – “Sensitive area”?

According to the policy, the clubs will “generally” not be appropriate near schools, play areas/parks, youth facilities, residential areas, women’s refuge facilities, family leisure facilities such as cinemas, theatres and concert halls, places of worship, places used for celebration or commemoration, cultural leisure facilities such as libraries, museums, retail shopping areas or historic buildings.

The draft doesn’t appear to give a definition of what constitutes “near”.

Nor does it spell out why it has decided on four clubs as a maximum. It appears to be because 59% of respondents to the Citizens Panel survey (1,092 people) said they felt four or fewer clubs should be allowed in the city centre.

The seven given licences last year were Liberte and Purple Door, both on York Place; Deep Blue on Wellington Street; Red Leopard and Wildcats on The Headrow; Black Diamond on New Briggate and Silks in the Dark Arches.

“Strong public concern” ?

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

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

Why a new policy so soon after the current one was adopted?

It’s because of what the council calls the “strong public concern” voiced by objectors when the seven clubs were granted their licences last June.

The most public face among those campaigning against the clubs is Shadow Chief Secretary to the Treasury and Leeds West MP Rachel Reeves, who launched an online petition calling for the current licences to be revoked, for a cap in the number of clubs, and for a ban on them “in prominent city centre locations” or close to civic and religious buildings.

But “strong public concern”?

Since it was launched in June 2012 the petition has been signed by just 123 people.

“Culturally rich and diverse city”

Some excerpts of the new policy:

“The council believes that … SEVs (sexual entertainment venues) are not in accordance with a culturally rich and diverse city. In particular SEVs tend not to be inclusive facilities, appeal only to a narrow sector of the community and are unlikely to enhance the cultural and child friendly reputation of the city.”

“The council considers that the presence of SEVs in any locality of Leeds will not advance equality of opportunity of women workers or residents.”

“The council has considered each and every ward and has determined all areas outside of the city centre to be unacceptable localities for SEVs to be located due to their proximity to rural, residential or deprived areas.”

“Taking into consideration all the matters mentioned in this section the appropriate number of SEVs in the city centre is a maximum of four providing those premises are not near properties with sensitive uses or in sensitive locations.”

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8 Responses to New policy aims to cap number of Leeds lap dance clubs following “strong public concern”

  1. Rich Tee says:

    It is an issue that I feel strongly about. I don’t think they should be illegal, but councils should have the power to refuse permission in certain areas. They do not, in fact, have this power at the moment.

    I did not sign that petition because it is a Labour-led petition and I am perfectly well aware that it is Labour’s 2003 Licensing Act that caused all this trouble in the first place. Before that it was difficult to open a strip club but Labour loosened all the rules.

    So I blame Labour for this situation and I won’t sign a Labour-led petition. They are not pulling the wool over my eyes.

  2. Al Woodly says:

    More people signed the petition in favour of these clubs. The ‘interested parties’ interviewed were only people who shared the narrow-minded, bigoted and anti-feminist ideals of the disgracefully undemocratic councillors and MPs who, it also should be noted, have absolutely ZERO business involving themselves in local politics attempting to change council policy. all this is is a nasty little campaign run by the new Mary Whitehouses who don’t like something so everyone has to bend to their will. All involved should be stripped of their offices.

    These neo-puritans have no business perverting legislation in this way.

    I should add that I have nothing to do with these clubs, have been maybe four times ever, the last time over four years ago, but no one should be under the impression that this is anything about improving Leeds. This is Ego-politics about things that the people involved simply don’t like so want banned. Nasty, bitter, authoritarian, narrow-minded hatred. Nothing more, nothing less.

  3. Bit of a shock to realise today at the Licensing Committee meeting (where they approved the draft) that at least one of the councillors who publicly backed Rachel Reeves’ campaign was on the task group that drafted the new policy. Is it just me, or isn’t that a bit odd?

    • Al Woodly says:

      It’s a lot odd.

      It’s borderline corruption.

      This isn’t public opinion at work. It’s one person’s ego.

      And as I asked, what business do MPs have dictating council policy?

      This is a handful of Labour Party members, council and MPs perverting local government for their own ends.

      It stinks and more should be done to stop them.

  4. Looks like the Leeds citizen will have to find a new night job!

  5. Truth & Justice says:

    Cultural diversity should embrace all forms of regulated legal entertainment and Council’s should not seek to undermine market supply and demand.

    The night time economy makes a significant contribution towards employment and tax revenues. It seems these misguided zealots are determined to further damage the struggling local economy by forcing established businesses to close.

    The Town Hall voices are an echo of their Victorian counterparts when complaining of a Gin Palace ( Jubilee Hotel) opening its doors to provide entertainment for the masses opposite the Ivory Tower of Leeds Town Hall at the turn of the nineteenth century.

    Over 100 years on nothing has changed the masses are still being entertained by the current form of adult entertainment in this building that is still fit for purposes and has sustained its original function, unlike the Town Hall and its Council members who are no-longer fit for purpose!

    Message to Council Members channel your energy into policies that encourage market led enterprise and embrace cultural diversity rather than trying to control it!

  6. Pingback: D-Day looms for Leeds lap-dance clubs – fate being decided next week | the leeds citizen

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