Sheffield lap dancing club refused planning permission

PRotesters who staged a city- centre demonstration over plans for a lap dancing club were celebrating last night after the scheme was thrown out by planners.

A large group gathered on the steps of Sheffield Town Hall yesterday lunchtime waving placards and chanting to voice their opposition to the scheme for a building on the city’s West Street.

Steelhouse, which is next to the City Hall tram stop, currently has permission to operate as a bar, but plans submitted to Sheffield Council requested permission for a change of use for adult entertainment.

Members of the committee refused the plans after being told by planners that the scheme would be “out of keeping and cause harm” to its “heart of the city” 
location on West Street.

Officers added: “It is considered that the proposal would not contribute to building a positive and attractive image.

“It is concluded that the proposed lap dancing venue would have a materially detrimental effect on schemes for continuing regeneration in the area and stimulating the vitality and viability of the city centre.”

From the Yorkshire Post, Tuesday 26 February 2013


What does the licensing of lap dancing clubs suggest about our changing attitudes towards the sex industries?

Since the Policing and Crime Act 2009 provided local authorities with more control over the location of lap dancing clubs, there has been much debate about whether there is a place for sexual entertainment in Britain. Here, Phil Hubbard considers the arguments against lap dancing, suggesting that frequent allusions to the negative impacts of lap dancing clubs on young people are suggestive of a risk-averse society that is convinced that young people and sexuality don’t mix, but is not sure what the harms of lap dancing are.

In 2012, we carried out a study of clubs and venues providing striptease entertainment in England and Wales which entailed a survey of all local authorities, analysis of the license applications made by all 241 sexual entertainment venues and an online and paper survey of 941 residents living in towns and cities with a lap dance venue. Interestingly, our survey suggested that only around 3% of respondents felt a lap dance club was a source of particular nuisance in their local town or city, a figure which was much lower than was the case for pubs, nightclubs or food take-ways, all of which were more frequently identified as causing particular problems of noise, anti-sociality and littering. Moreover, while around one in ten of our respondents appeared markedly opposed to the presence of lap dance clubs in British cities, the majority (55%) suggested they are appropriate in city or town centre locations. Against this, however, only 3% claimed clubs are suitable in residential areas. Tellingly, 46% felt clubs are not suitable near colleges or universities, 65% near religious facilities and 83% near schools.


Given this is the first Research Council-funded, extensive research on the impacts of sexual entertainment venues on the communities in which they are located, it is perhaps not surprising these research findings have been subsequently picked up a number of journalists. However, this reportage has not always been of the type we anticipated:

“It may seem obvious to some but a new £118,000 study has discovered people do not like the idea of strip clubs being outside schools. It took a whole year for the University of Kent’s School of Social Policy to reach the conclusion of their report which was paid for using taxpayers’ money”

(Daily Mail, 23 January 2013, ‘Council pays £118,000 for year-long study revealing parents don’t like the idea of strip clubs outside schools’, online edition)

As such, we stand accused of revealing the ‘obvious’: people are uneasy about sexual entertainment near children’s spaces. But we would counter by suggesting that ‘commonsensical’ ideas still demand explanation and critical scrutiny. Before we ban lap dance clubs in areas where children are present, should we not establish that it is a generally held assumption that this is the right thing to do? And do we not need to identify the specific nuisances caused by such venues before we decide how to regulate them? Apparently, we live in societies where such discussion is not required. This was demonstrated to us repeatedly in our survey: when we verbally quizzed people as to why lap dancing clubs should not be located near schools, the stock response was simply ‘because not’: it simply feels wrong.

But if we assume that children and minors are not allowed on lap dance premises, that any displays of nudity or pornography are not visible from the exterior of the premises, and that clubs can be required to open after a time when children would not routinely be on the street, it is worth questioning what harms are caused to children when such clubs are opened, and how these might be mitigated via their distancing from facilities used by children. Such questions are surely important in the context of politicians’ frequent pronouncements that our children are being damaged by the ‘hyper-sexualisation’ of society. They are also worth asking given the home itself is far from a safe haven for children, with ‘sexting’ via social media and the availability of adult online content as likely to have an impact on young people as the sight of a ‘gentleman’s club’ on the local high street. Quite what it is that children are vulnerable to here needs to be stated. Is it the idea that the presence of such clubs normalizes particular attitudes towards women’s sexuality? Or do we actually think that lap dance clubs are breeding predatory sex fiends from whom the young deserve protection? These are difficult questions to raise in the current climate, but they deserve consideration given that the sex industries provide a livelihood for many, with ‘over-regulation’ likely to displace this type of work into less formalized and potentially less salubrious surroundings (something that will have costs and benefits for owners and dancers alike).

Our research suggests that in practice, the licensing of Sexual Entertainment Venues in British cities is nonetheless informed by ‘commonsense’ assumptions that they are incompatible with certain other land uses, and need to be distanced or ‘zoned’ away from ‘family spaces’ of residence, education, leisure, and retailing. Local authorities adopt varying approaches here, stipulating premises are unacceptable within 200m (Hackney), 250m (Camden) or 500m (Coventry) of a school or other ‘sensitive’ land use. Indeed, where licenses have been refused, explanations have alluded to the incompatibility between sexual entertainment venues and such land uses. So, while the ‘dread fears’ of child sex abuse and paedophilia are not explicitly noted in council decisions, there appears an implicit acceptance that some degree of distancing of lap dance clubs from ‘family space’ is sensible, pragmatic and commonsensical. There is then a precautionary logic in play here given the lack of compelling evidence that lap dance clubs are actually associated with any more criminality than other licensed premises, but given we live in societies where we are all ‘riskophobes’ and actual risk is no longer a basis for decision-making, the adoption of a risk-averse approach is understandable. From a governmental perspective, ruling that lap dancing is illegal would be difficult given the impossibility of enforcing such a ban, and the potential allegation that this is an infringement of civil liberties: instead, ‘visible precaution’ is practiced, with public fears addressed through a licensing process that is able to consider these fears through a deployment of local, commonsense knowledge about ‘what belongs where’.

Distancing lap dancing clubs from ‘family spaces’ certainly appears unobjectionable given the imagined vulnerability of the child, but I would conclude that it is ultimately a form of social ordering that reaffirms the connection between commercial sex and the socially marginal, rendering it potentially more disturbing and constructing it as Other to the assumed moral codes of ‘family residential areas’. While it was not the stated intention of the Policing and Crime Act 2009 to push lap dancing premises away from wealthier, middle class ‘family’ spaces, that is a potential outcome. The fact that the spatial regulation and licensing of sexual entertainment reinforces dominant ideologies that connect property, propriety, and family life is surely worthy of investigation, no matter what the Daily Mail thinks.

Note: This work was supported by the Economic and Social Research Council, Grant ES/J002755/1 ‘Sexualisation, nuisance and safety: Sexual Entertainment Venues and the management of risk’: the Co-I was Dr Rachela Colosi, University of Lincoln.



Blackpool club license refused

An application for The Doll House club in Blackpool was refused by their licensing committee on 30th January on the basis there are already four clubs in the town and this is the limit as stipulated in their policy document:

The Sub-Committee considered an application for a Sex Entertainment Venue Licence for The Doll House.

Mr Woosnam, Solicitor acting on behalf of the applicant, Ms Sayers, the applicant accompanied by Mr Sayers presented the application.

Mr Marshall, Licensing Health and Safety Enforcement Officer, Blackpool Council and Sgt Hannon representing Lancashire Constabulary presented their objections relating to the application.

The Sub-Committee had regard to the Council’s Sex Establishment Policy.  It also had regard to additional information submitted on behalf of the applicant after the Agenda had been despatched that had addressed the observations made by Mr Marshall in his representation.  Members also considered additional information submitted at the meeting by Mr Marshall relating to a recent study undertaken by the University of Kent and a map showing the location of the existing Sex Entertainment Venues and the location of The Doll House.

Members discussed the merits of the application and raised concerns relating to the close proximity of other similar establishments.  It also had regard to the Council’s policy in relation to the number of sex establishments that the Local Authority had deemed appropriate for the locality. 

Resolved:  That the application for a Sex Entertainment Venue licence be refused on the grounds that it would increase the number of sex establishments beyond the number deemed appropriate for the locality and nothing had been heard to justify deviation from the Sex Establishment Policy and the grant of the licence would be inappropriate having regard to the character of the relevant locality as the proximity to similar venues would mean that the granting of this licence would create a cluster of these establishments.

An application for a sex shop was also refused at the same time:

The Sub-Committee considered an application from Darker Enterprises Limited for a sex shop licence at 34 Cookson Street, Blackpool.

Mr Sullivan, Management Consultant engaged by the applicant, Ms Singleton and Mr McFull presented the application on behalf of Darker Enterprises Limited.

PC Robinson, Lancashire Constabulary, Mr Marshall, Licensing Health and Safety Enforcement Officer acting on behalf of the Licensing Authority and Ms Gregoriou, owner of Reform Health Club presented their objections to the application.

The Sub-Committee had regard to the Council’s Sex Establishment Policy.  It also considered additional information submitted by the applicant in the form of photographs of other sex establishment shop frontages.

Members noted the applicant’s intention to surrender the existing licence should the application be successful resulting in the number of sex shops within the town remaining at two.

During an in-depth discussion on the merits of the application, Members raised concerns relating to the location of the premises which was in a mainly residential area and its close proximity to a school and a health club frequented by children.

Resolved:  That the application be refused on the grounds that the grant of this licence would be inappropriate having regard to the character of the locality.





Swindon club going for SEV license

Angelo’s, in Fleet Street, closed after it had its licence revoked by Swindon Council’s Licensing Panel in 2011 following years of serious crime at the venue.

The closure was triggered by the arrest of former manager Guglielmo Rossi, who later admitted being concerned in the supply of cocaine between September 5 and October 6 2011.

But now Carmine Di Liso, who used to run the Godfather Club, in Victoria Road, has taken over the lease and is hoping to make Angelo’s a gentleman’s club.


Home Plan Design Services, acting for Mr Di Liso, obtained council planning permission for the venue to open between 9pm and 2am from Monday to Wed-nesday and 9pm to 4am from Thursday to Sundays.

But the club’s management still has to obtain approval from the council’s licensing committee.



Sex shop in Burton wins appeal case

AN adult shop has won its case against a council which wanted to force the owners to acquire a licence to sell a ‘significant amount of sex items’.

However, Michael McGee, director of Heelz Adult Store, in the Eton Business Park, off Derby Road, Burton, denied his shop was selling the suggested amount of items and the case was then dismissed due to lack of evidence.

Mr McGee and his brother, David, had been running Heelz for a year before the licensing officer at East Staffordshire Borough Council came knocking in January 2012.

Two test purchases were made in which sex items were sold and the brothers were given an application to fill in for a proper licence.

Mr McGee said: “Any business or premises needs a licence for adult shop if it is selling a significant degree of sex articles but everyone’s definition is always different.

“We are working on similar guidelines to Ann Summers which also doesn’t have that licence.

“If we had four walls full of sex articles then yes I accept we would need a licence, but we have as much if not less than Ann Summers. We were told it is because Ann Summers sells clothing, but so do we.”

Mr McGee, of Thames Close, Derby, was prosecuted by the borough council for running the store allegedly as an unlicensed sex establishment and a trial took place last week but was then dismissed.

He said: “We came here because there was nothing like this in Burton. We cater mainly for club-wear. We don’t do amazingly well but we get a lot of people in.

“While the court case was going on we were reluctant to advertise, even over Christmas, because we were waiting to see what was going to happen.

“If we lost the court case, we would have had to get a licence, which costs about £3,200. The licence is imposed if anyone wants to sell hardcore porn but we don’t want to do that. We are basically saying we are not a sex shop, we are an adult store. If we were head to toe in toys then we would get a licence, but we aren’t.

“It is a lot better now. I am more annoyed now because they wasted all this public money.

“I have been in this industry for 14 years so I know what I can and can’t do. They brought up the fact I had applied for the licence at my shop in Derby which is true but the market was different then and that proves that I knew what to apply for.”

His brother added: “It used to be called Heelz but we had parents ringing up asking if we sell childrens’ shoes so we changed the name to Heelz Adult Store.”

The borough council declined to comment and has 21 days to consider if it wants to appeal.


Campaign against ‘inappropriate’ lap dancing club


Campaigners against Wilmslow’s lap dancing club are redoubling their efforts as the deadline approaches for objections to the club’s annual licence renewal.

ST Lounge on Grove Street, which Van Leisure Ltd has operated in Wilmslow since 2009, is forced to reapply for a licence on an annual basis following Cheshire East Council’s adoption of Schedule 3 of the Local Government (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1982 which came into effect from 4th April 2011.

A group of local residents, business people and community leaders formed an action group, called Make Wilmslow Matter, in 2012 after the ST Lounge’s permission to operate was renewed.

The club was granted a new Sexual Entertainment Venue Licence by the General Licensing Sub-Committee in March 2012, despite objections from local residents, councillors and churches. However, the police had no objections to the licence being granted.

The campaigners argue that the club’s location, in a pedestrian shopping area, is in a totally wrong place for the community.

Marion Amir-Hekmat, chairman of Make Wilmslow Matter, is leading a letter writing and petition signing campaign by local people opposed to the club’s licence renewal.

She said “Our message is striking a chord with local councillors, people running businesses in town, leaders of local schools and many people who care about restoring the character of one of our busiest shopping streets. Now is the time for all these voices to be heard.”

Former leader of Cheshire East Council, Cllr Wesley Fitzgerald said “I have full sympathy with the many objectors who strongly resent the presence of such an inappropriate trade on what is a main shopping street in Wilmslow.

“Notwithstanding the night time activities, during the day its frontage with shutters down and a carpet of fag ends etc. from the previous night’s activities is a depressing sight for morning shoppers. The legality of this enterprise is not in question, merely its location. It is in the wrong place and is causing offence to many Wilmslow residents.”

Martin Hoyle of The Wilmslow Trust commented: “Wilmslow is trying to build a commerce sector which relies on niche businesses to attract shoppers from a wide area. This sort of establishment doesn’t form part of that sector and, indeed, could harm it.”

In August 2012 Wilmslow Town Council voted in favour of Wilmslow being designated a ‘zero’ locality for sexual entertainment venues by the licensing authority, Cheshire East Council. Make Wilmslow Matter argue that this would be the best way to restore the town’s image.

ST Lounge Gentlemens Club and Champagne Bar has applied for the renewal of its Sexual Entertainment Venue Licence to use 16 Grove Street for the following forms of ‘relevant entertainment’ : lap dancing, table dancing, strip shows and full nudity.

Any objections to this application should be made not later than 28 days after Monday 21st January 2013 being the date of the application. Objections must be made in writing, stating in general terms the grounds of objection, to: The Licensing Section, Cheshire East Borough Council, Town Hall, Market Place, Macclesfield SK10 1DX.


Over ‘Sexed’ Regulation and the Disregarded Worker: An Overview of the Impact of Sexual Entertainment Policy on Lap-Dancing Club Workers

ABSTRACT: In England and Wales, with the introduction of Section 27 of the Policing and Crime Act 2009, lap-dancing clubs can now be licensed as Sexual Entertainment Venues. This article considers such, offering a critique of Section 27, arguing that this legislation is not evidence-based, with lap-dancing policy, like other sex-work policies, often associated with crime, deviance and immorality. Furthermore, it is argued that sex-work policies are gradually being homogenised as well as increasingly criminalised. Other criticisms relate to various licensing loopholes which lead to some striptease venues remaining unlicensed and unregulated, potentially impacting on the welfare of erotic dancers. In addition, restrictions on the numbers of lap-dancing venues may exacerbate dancer unemployment, drawing these women into poverty. Finally, The Policing and Crime Act reflects how the political focus is being directed away from the exploitation of workers, on to issues relating to crime and deviance, despite limited evidence to support this focus.