Another refusal (Cornwall)

An application for an SEV (The Attic) in Newquay has been refused, constituting the 24th refusal since the new powers were adopted. Here there were 74 objections (including several petitions). There has been a quite sustained programme of opposition to clubs in Newquay, where one (wild cherry) was relicensed in March 2013, but others (Kiss/Halos) have been refused in the past. In this case, it seems the locality was deemed unsuitable by virtue of fact another club located on same street.





Judicial review suggests width of refusal for SEVs is large


Pandoras lap dance club obtained planning permission from South Bucks council in 2011, but the licensing committee then refused an SEV license. The appeal was based on the idea that the planning officer had said the locality was suitable: the licensing committee deferred from this view. Whilst this perhaps suggests no-one has quite thought through the relationship of planning and licensing systems as they pertain to sexual entertainment, the result of the review upheld the licensing committee’s view and suggested that the width of discretion which licensing committees can use is wide indeed.

The defending barristers drew the following conclusions:

1.       The breadth of the discretion in applications for SEV licences is confirmed. It is intended to be wide;
2.       Although it is important to give reasons for a decision to refuse, those reasons need only be sufficient to enable the losing party to know why he has lost;
3.       Where the extent of reasons given is criticised it is permissible to produce ‘amplified reasons’ – in this case a reconvened sub-committee (the same 3 members) produced a fuller note of their reasons, which was accepted;
4.       The assessment of ‘character’ for the purposes of the planning regime is distinct from the assessment of ‘the character of the locality’ for the purposes of the SEL regime, and can lawfully produce different outcomes. One need not follow the other.


Another refusal (Hemel Hempstead)

An application for an SEV in Hemel has been refused, constituting the 23rd refusal since the new powers were adopted. In this case there were just two public objections but one from the local MP and concerns raised by local police. The license was refused by 4 votes to 3 by the licensing subcommittee of Dacorum local authority.

It was stated ‘the Licensing and Health and Safety Enforcement Sub-Committee refused the application, as they felt it would be inappropriate to grant the application having regard to the character of the relevant locality, to the use of any premises in the vicinity, or to the layout, character or condition of the premises’



Hounslow to impose ‘nil limit’?

“NEW rules making it much harder for strip clubs, sex shops and blue cinemas to open could be introduced.

There are currently no such adult venues in the borough but new proposals would make it very difficult for any to open in future.

Hounslow’s licensing committee is due to decide on Monday (March 11) whether to set the ‘appropriate maximum’ number of sexual entertainment venues at zero.

The move would not be an absolute ban on such establishments opening, but it would put the onus on applicants to demonstrate why the council should depart from its zero-tolerance policy.”


Note, Red Lipps, formerly Mist, was refused a license in August 2012, after receiving 56 objections.


The Licensing Committee:
• approved the draft version of the policy;
• agreed to release the draft policy for public consultation for a period of four weeks with the results to be reported back to the next meeting of the Licensing Committee;
• adopted in principle and subject to the results of the consultation the level of the appropriate maximum number of sex establishments and sexual entertainment venues within specified areas of the Borough as set out in the Sex Establishments and Sex Entertainment Venue policy; namely nil; and
• agreed to review the Sex Establishments and Sex Entertainment Venue policy every five years.

Wilmslow lap dance club facing opposition to relicensing

Three Wilmslow councillors are backing objections to the town’s lap dancing club keeping its licence.

ST Lounge bosses told the Express two weeks ago that people who want the Grove Street club to lose its  licence were the ‘blue rinse brigade’ and a ‘moral minority’.

But campaigners say it is the location of the venue they disapprove of.

Now ward councillors for Wilmslow Rod Menlove, Gary Barton and Wesley Fitzgerald have issued a statement saying: “This is not an objection to the applicant, nor a moral objection to such establishments. We believe Grove Street is wholly inappropriate for sexual entertainment venues.

“Grove Street is at the heart of our shopping centre and a strip club is significantly harmful and a blight on the character of the locality.

“We’re urgently seeking ways to support our struggling shops while encouraging a thriving cafe and restaurant culture – a process damaged by this application.

“It’s close to four major churches and almost on the doorstep of Wilmslow Prep School as well as being on the route home for Wilmslow High School pupils.

“Public opposition is significant and we support residents and the town council in recommending that this application be denied.”


Exempt premises?

It’s nearly time for the Cheltenham Race Week. This means that are selection of pubs and clubs will be putting on lap dance or striptease with a view to cashing in on the increased number of punters in town. These will be subject to close scrutiny noting that in previous years some of the premises which have applied for waivers to put on such entertainment have broken conditions.


What I found interesting in the media version of this story is that they report “Current licensing rules mean anyone wanting to host lap dances for longer than 24 hours per month now has to apply for a permanent sexual entertainment licence”.

This isn’t quite the case, as guidance from the Home Office (2010) note that exempt premises include “premises which provide relevant entertainment on an infrequent basis. These are defined as premises where- a) no relevant entertainment has been provided on more than 11 occasions within a 12 month period; b) no such occasion has begun within a period of one month beginning with the end of the previous occasions; and c) no such occasion has lasted longer than 24 hours”

The key point here is surely that it is necessary to apply for a license should you want to host striptease on more than one occasion per month, irrespective of whether it lasts one hour or twenty four. Simply having striptease for an hour a night during the Cheltenham Festival would make clubs liable to seek an SEV license, a point lost by arguing the activity has to occur for more than 24 hours.



Opposing striptopia: The embattled spaces of adult entertainment

by Phil Hubbard, Sexualities journal (2009) 12 (6) 721-745.

While adult entertainment venues offering striptease have proliferated in the UK, recent reforms have subjected them to more onerous and restrictive forms of licensing control. This article examines the justification for this re-regulation, noting that debates around the desirability of such venues have become increasingly framed in terms of gendered exploitation rather than sexual liberation and ‘play’. Noting that such debates often conflate questions of public morality, criminality, nuisance and exploitation in unhelpful ways, this article argues that the reform of the licensing law was underpinned by possibly flawed assumptions about the gendered and sexed nature of adult entertainment. The article accordingly emphasizes the ability of the naked body to excite both desire and disgust, and challenges the assumption that commercial sex is always exploitative.