People left exposed by Lap Dancing legislation

Thanks for the campaigner that sent this in – this is actually from last year but very much still relevant

Local people’s views on lap-dancing clubs are going unheard and unheeded because of a loophole in the licensing laws, council leaders will warn today.

The number of lap-dancing venues in Britain has doubled to around 300 since 2004 and in a letter to ministers, the Local Government Association will call for an urgent amendment to give authorities more control over the situation.

The 2003 Licensing Act puts the clubs in the same category as bars and cafes rather than considering them as places of sexual entertainment.

It means residents’ concerns about the kind of customers which may be attracted or the suitability of a specific location cannot be taken into account.

One example which highlights the problem is that of Southwark Council, which was unable to use the proximity of a venue to a cathedral as grounds to refuse a licence. A club was only prevented from opening by a clause in the lease for the premises concerned.

The LGA has written to Gerry Sutcliffe at the Department for Culture, Media and Sport as part of a consultation on the issue, which closes today, and the response has also been sent to Vernon Coaker at the Home Office and Minister for Women, Harriet Harman.

The letter from Vice Chairman, Sir Jeremy Beecham, said:

“The new licensing laws were intended to give local people more of a say on how pubs and clubs are run in their area but when it comes to lap-dancing establishments councils often find there’s little they can do to respond to people’s wishes.

“The law as it stands does not allow councils to consider the type of entertainment being provided or any concerns about the impact it may have on surrounding homes and businesses.

“It’s a loophole which needs closing.

“Local democracy depends on people being able to voice their opinions, and on councils being able to consider those views.

“Our towns and cities should be shaped as far as possible according to residents’ wishes, not by the presence of unwanted lap-dancing clubs in the heart of them.”

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