Council backing new law to veto lap dancing clubs

From The Hornsey Journal

A NEW law giving councils increased powers to veto lap dancing clubs has been backed by Haringey Council, it has been confirmed.

But it is likely to come too late for campaigners fighting to stop what would be the borough’s only lap dancing club opening in Crouch End.

Music Palace
Music Palace

Councillor Nilgun Canver, (Labour) cabinet member for crime and community safety, confirmed Haringey Council has lobbied the Local Government Association in support of new powers under the Policing and Crime Bill.

She said: “Whatever happens I would encourage residents to come forward and raise their voice. Whether it can achieve results or not, it shows the government and other bodies the residents are not happy and have got a voice on this issue.

“They should know that legislative change is required and needed at the moment for residents’ views to be taken into account. It is being debated and decided and I’m fully supportive of that.”

The bill had a second reading in the House of Commons on January 19 and is now being scrutinised by a Public Bill Committee.

It aims to tighten controls on lap dancing clubs and the Local Government Association is being consulted on amendments.

Councillor Matt Cooke, cabinet member for community cohesion and involvement, has also moved a motion for Haringey to “opt-in” to the powers, due to debated at a full council meeting on Monday.

The motion says: “This council believes that lap-dancing clubs are part of the commercial sex industry, which normalise the sexual objectification of women. It believes that it is an exploitative industry which damages gender equality.”

Critics blame relaxation of the licensing laws for an explosion in lap dancing and other “sex encounter venues” across the country.

A Haringey Council hearing on Thursday, May 14, to decide if Music Palace in Tottenham Lane, Crouch End, should be granted a licence for lap dancing will be the first in the borough under the new relaxed laws.

Campaigners from the Lap Off! group took to the streets again this week and gathered 500 signatures on a petition opposing the bid on Saturday.

More than 35 Crouch End businesses, from bars and restaurants to hairdressers and a pet shop, have also pledged support.

Lindsay Wright, Lap Off! member, said: “The response we have had has been phenomenal – a resounding no for this outrageous application.”

But despite the swell of feeling, the council stressed it can only consider objections under four strict criteria – prevention of crime and disorder, public safety, public nuisance, and prevention of harm to children.

It has not commented on whether a precedent will be set by the Music Palace decision, saying only that “each application is judged against the provisions of the Licensing Act 2003”.

But licensing law has been tested by a number of betting shop applications in the last two years – which are judged on similar grounds.

Haringey rejected some early licences – only for the decisions to be overturned at Magistrates’ Court, leaving the council to pay hefty cost settlements.

Councillor Canver said one suggested measure under the new law is to stop the right of appeal to magistrates, giving councils the final say on applications.

She has also lobbied for more stringent controls of working practices in lap dancing clubs.

The last lap dancing club to operate in Haringey was Charlie Browns in Wood Green, which opened in 2003 but was prosecuted by the council for operating without the correct permission.

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