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Tories back powers for local authorities to stop lap dancing clubs

In the Commons earlier today Gordon Brown said that he wanted to give local authorities the power to stop lap dancing clubs:

"We believe that any such applications should take into account the wishes of local residents and should be sensitive to the needs of people in the area. We intend to legislate on that basis in the near future."

Two weeks ago Theresa May and Jeremy Hunt had proposed that lap dancing clubs be classified as ‘sex encounter establishments’ and local authorities would have the power to decide that a new application was inappropriate for their localities.

Maytheresa Theresa May commented at the time:

“Councils have made clear to us how frustrated they are that they haven’t been given appropriate powers over the licensing of lap dancing clubs. Local councils should decide whether it is appropriate for lap dancing clubs to operate in their area, taking into consideration the feelings of their community. It is clear that they need greater powers and we will change the law to ensure that they get them.”

CCHQ compiled examples of local authorities that had been unable to prevent clubs opening:

Brighton Council refused a license to a lap dancing club, a decision that was overturned by the Magistrates Court. Brighton and Hove has four fully-nude lap dancing clubs

Since 2003, Greenwich Council has approved two applications for lap dancing clubs. One such application was opposed by in a petition signed by around 800 local residents. The licensing authority stated that there were no legal grounds to oppose granting a license, which was therefore granted. The Council issued a stop notice on the venue which was overturned by the Courts.

An application for a lap dancing club was approved by Durham City Council in 2007 despite local objections. The venue site is close to the city’s cathedral. Local residents appealed the decision in the Magistrates Court and won, with magistrates saying that the application contravened all four licensing objectives. However, the owners of the site are seeking a judicial review in the High Court.

Objections to a new lap dancing club were dismissed by Newcastle City Council, who said that the objections did not fit the criteria of the Licensing Act.

In 2007, Manchester City Council said that it was unable to block an application from a lap dancing club, and was therefore obliged to grant it a license.

Westminster has the highest concentration of lap dancing clubs in London, and the Licensing Authority has stated that it will not consider any further applications except in exceptional circumstances. However, under current provision it is not clear that they would be able to do this."

Tim Montgomerie


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