Scots consult on Sexual Entertainment legislation

A long time since the AEWG reported on the issues in Scotland, and following the change in government, there is a consultation on proposals to bring in a new law in Scotland along the lines of the SEV legislation ushered in by the Policing and Crime Act 2009 in England and Wales. Indeed, apart from clarifying the meaning of the phrase ‘audience’ in the Policing and Crime Act section 27, I am not sure there is much difference in what is proposed.

Consultation is open until Sept – see:

http://www.scotland.gov.uk/News/Releases/2013/06/sexualentertainmentvenueconsultation24062013

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New SEV application, Lambeth

A new application is in for a gay sauna and sex cinema in Lambeth, The Locker Room. It is interesting that Lambeth is encouraging gay saunas and venues to seek a licence, but no other local authority seems to be doing so. In part, this shows the ambiguity of SEV legislation – if a licence is needed for a gay sauna or club where men take off their clothes and others present might regard this as sexually stimulating, it raises questions about the licensing of massage parlours given definitions of what constitutes an audience could be seen to debatable and sexual stimulation is clearly something offered by many masseurs…

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‘Outrage’ in Worcester

“A LAP and pole dancing club featuring naked and topless women could be coming to Worcester. The raunchy dancers could soon be cavorting all night long after an application was handed in to Worcester City Council licensing chiefs for a ‘sexual entertainment venue’ (SEV) at the former Funk Club in The Butts. However, a spokesman for the applicant said licensing objectives about prevention of crime and disorder, public safety, prevention of public nuisance and protection of children from harm would be strictly adhered to….He also said the regulation of such clubs was ‘extremely tight’ and there would be a strict ‘look but do not touch policy’. CCTV and licensed doorstaff would provide security. He said signs would be ‘discreet’ with no ‘salacious’ photographs on display. He also said the building would need ‘a major refurbishment’ if the licence was granted.

The club, which was originally a lap dancing club called Images, is opposite the iconic Hive, the library and history centre opened by the Queen in July last year. The application for the licence to the venue which has a working title of ‘Black Cherry’, was handed in on Monday (June 17) by applicant, Ashvin Patel who was described by his spokesman as a businessman who was ‘branching out’…

The proposal provoked concern from retired senior local government official and father-of-three Adam Scott of Laugherne Road, St John’s, Worcester, who spotted the application notice outside the club. Mr Scott, who regularly uses the Hive and had responsibility for licensing during his career, said: “I was appalled to see that there is an application for a pole dancing club being made on The Butts. It proposes being open for seven days a week, all night long, where men can go for sexual gratification: “This is completely unsuitable in such a location that is used by many young people and is right opposite the houses of Magdala Court. Whether you agree with the morality of such places or not, it’s something we don’t want to see anywhere in the city centre and certainly not here.”

The application has been submitted to Worcestershire regulatory services and will be determined by Worcester City Council’s licensing committee. No date for the meeting has been set yet.

The same site was home to lap dancing club Images around five years ago. There are no SEVs licensed to operate in Worcester at the moment.

Coun Jabba Riaz, vice-chairman of the licensing committee, a police and crime panel member and a ward councillor who represents the city centre, said it was important to be objective about the application as the site had previously been a lap dancing club. He said: “We have to look at what conditions were put on the previous licence and check what incidents occurred in the area of that premises when it was a lap dancing club.
“We have just built a £60 million Hive right opposite which Her Majesty the Queen opened in a historic and beautiful setting. Would this add to that beautiful, historic setting? Would it add to the character of the area? It is a cultural centre and I don’t think it will do the area any justice at all.

“But we live in a free market economy where anybody can apply for anything but this is where Worcester licensing officers and planning officers have to look at the bigger context of the city and where this sits in the future image we want of Worcester.”

City MP Robin Walker said it was a matter for the licensing committee but added: “I’m sure they will want to look carefully at it and make sure public decency issues are protected.”

The application will be determined under the Policing and Crime Act 2009, which came into force in 2010. The Act sets out the grounds for refusal of an SEV licence application. West Mercia Police will be consulted.

Grounds for refusing the licence could include the applicant being convicted of an offence or if granting the licence would be inappropriate to the character of the area.

Worcester City Council also has the power to attach various conditions if an SEV licence is approved connected to opening hours, displays and advertisements on or in sex establishments, the visibility of the interior of a sex establishment to passers-by and any change of use from one kind of sex establishment to another.

Any residents wishing to give their views on the application should do so in writing by July 15, the day the consultation closes. They can do so by post to WRS, PO Box 866, Worcester WR1 9DP or by email (wrsenquiries@worcsregservices.gov.uk). All correspondence should quote the application reference number 13/00129/SEV.From:

http://www.worcesternews.co.uk/news/worcester/10502757.print/

Judicial review of Warwick DC decision dropped

It has been reported that the challenge to Warwick’s decision to grant a licence to Shades in Leamington has been dropped. The club was refused a licence, then granted one, a decision that some local opponents felt was unreasonable given the ‘council’s licensing committee had an express statutory discretion to refuse the application on the grounds of the previous refusal but had failed to acknowledge this
 discretion properly or at all’. Though the case for taking to judicial review had been granted, it appears all sides have determined this action is a waste of money, and it appears Warwick DC have agreed to cover some of the incurred costs.

According to Yash Pal Tara, one of those leading the appeal: “The way the process was handled offended our sense of natural justice. Companies such as Shades can afford specialist legal advice and representation which is beyond the reach of local people.

“We feel vindicated that we were granted permission for a judicial review, but on balance, there are better ways to oppose Shades and significant taxpayers’ money would be spent on this case. We did not want that.”

Cllr Michael Coker, responsible for policy on community protection, said: “We appreciate that the licensing of sexual entertainment venues is a contentious issue and that the claimants challenged the decision in what they considered to be the interests of local people.

“It is appropriate that the parties should share the costs to prevent considerable amounts of public time and money being spent on a hearing in the High Court.”

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quotes from: http://www.warwickcourier.co.uk/news/local/legal-battle-against-leamington-sex-club-is-cancelled-1-5198958

Public attitudes to sexual entertainment in Leeds

There are a couple of lap dance venues in Leeds whose licenses are currently being renewed (the meetings were some time ago, but the minutes and outcome have not been publicised). Assuming these are relicensed, this means there are 7 venues in Leeds currently, though the media is reporting that the number may be reduced if recent consultation and Citizen Panel results are acted upon given the local authority is suggest that 4 might be the new maximum number of licences to be granted in the city:

http://www.yorkshireeveningpost.co.uk/news/latest-news/top-stories/bid-to-limit-leeds-lap-dance-clubs-moves-closer-1-5785028

Though there is clear support for no SEVs outside the city centre, the logic for reducing the number of city centre premises from 7 to 4 is not clear given most agree that city centre locations are suitable and less than 50% agree that areas such as Boar Lane, Merrion Centre, Call Lane, Assembly Street and Woodhouse Lane are unsuitable. On the other hand, the Headrow, Briggate, the Courts area and East Parade are all locations where more than 50% of people feel clubs are unsuitable: given there are clubs in these locations, this presumably justifies the reduction of 7 to 4, though why more clubs could not be located elsewhere within the city centre or town centres away from sensitive land uses or other clubs is not clear. It will be interesting to see how this moves forward given there has been a lot of interest in what is happening in Leeds, with local MP Rachel Reeves an opponent of SEVs in the city.

The following taken from Report to Leeds licensing committee on SEV public consultation, 12 March 2013

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Union Club, Vauxhall, licensed.

A club in Vauxhall has obtained an SEV licence from Lambeth. This isn’t a lap dance club with female performers, but like some of its licensed neighbours in Vauxhall, is a gay club that has sought a licence for a small number of live events and, according to the solicitor, events where customers might strip for their own, or others’, entertainment. No representations were made, and it was judged that the mandatory grounds for refusal did not apply in this case: the committee granted subject to standard conditions as agreed with other premises in the vicinity.

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Blue Bar at Robert Peel pub, Kingston, applies for licence

Long established strip pub the Sir Robert Peel has applied for an SEV, following Ama-Gi which obtained licence in same borough in January. There are three objections, albeit two are quite lengthy and allege a series of nuisance effects. The licence hearing is Weds 26th July (the Kingston Town Neighbourhood committee).

see: http://www.croydonguardian.co.uk/news/business/news/10492322.Sex_entertainment_licence_application_for_Norbiton_pub/Peel-W1200