Disarray as councillor’s conflict of interest postpones D-Day for Leeds lap dance club

The Black Diamond

The Black Diamond

Disarray at the Civic Hall this morning as the first of the long-awaited decisions on the future of lap dance clubs in Leeds had to be postponed – because of a conflict of interest of one of the councillors sitting on the decision-making panel.

The Black Diamond on New Briggate is one of seven lap-dancing clubs that are having to reapply for their licences after Leeds City Council introduced a strict new licensing policy earlier this year.

Three of the seven are going to get the axe to meet the council’s new limit of four clubs for the city.

A special panel made up of three councillors was set up last week to hear those re-applications and was due to decide today on the future of the Black Diamond.

The club’s representatives duly turned up this morning, only to find out that the husband of panel member Cllr Karen Bruce was one of the members of the public objecting to the application.

Hence the conflict of interest. And the postponement.

One must presume that Cllr Bruce was unaware of her husband’s action.

Not that Cllr Bruce’s views on the clubs are a secret. She was campaigning against “the proliferation” of the clubs in Leeds long before the council dreamt up its new policy in response to …  erm … “strong public concern“. As was the current chair of the council’s Licensing Committee, Cllr Rebecca Charlwood.

The panel is going to reconvene on Thursday, this time without Cllr Bruce. In fact, Black Diamond’s team of men in suits will now be up against an all-male panel of Leeds councillors.

As a footnote, you wouldn’t have known that Cllr Bruce’s husband had objected to the application by reading the papers made public on the council’s website ahead of the meeting.

And, bizarrely, no explanation was given at the meeting of Cllr Bruce’s absence. I had to ask the Black Diamond representatives on the way out what the problem was, and they kindly told me. Why wasn’t the council upfront about it? Who knows.

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5 Responses to Disarray as councillor’s conflict of interest postpones D-Day for Leeds lap dance club

  1. gypjh says:

    Most local authorities put all the objections in the public realm with some details redacted. The papers in Leeds are very unhelpful – it says the club has been objected to – by whom? how many objections? I have asked for clarification but it feels like something odd is going on here.

  2. Steve Williamson says:

    When will the Council learn that except in cases of genuine commercial sensitivity it is best to be open? Firstly, because it avoids people thinking something untoward is going on when it isn’t; secondly, because in a democracy being open with people is the best way of encouraging citizen engagement which all the mainstream politica parties claim to support.

  3. Pingback: Leeds today: police, lapdancing, circus, Jupitus, Trinity, skeptics, Pig, conkers and flash. | Beyond Guardian Leeds

  4. Paul Thomas says:

    I don’t see why this would be considered a “conflict of interest”. She and her husband aren’t conjoined, and it would be extremely rare if partners shared 100% the same views on everything. Of course we can always enjoy the schadenfreude when those who try and impose their Victorian morality on the rest of society see their own arse. It reminds me of when pursed-lipped prude Jacqui Smith’s husband was discovered to have rented a couple of porn films (although, in the internet-age, the bigger question is “who rents porn films?”).

    However, any schadenfreude has to be tempered by the reality of a small section of the illiberal political class deciding what is of “public concern”, and then imposing some arbitrary limit on a legal business. What the clubs should do is re-apply as burlesque clubs – apparently that’s “empowering” for women.

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