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.
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.