After what seems an age, TH have put forward a policy which they admit does not enjoy a clear mandate: the policy is for a nil limit, though existing licences can be maintained.
The Council has obviously been vexed by this issue, with council members allegedly keen to say a nil limit, but resistance from a large number of clubs and also some LGBT venues. Interestingly, the Council commissioned a consultant’s report which states:
“Whilst it is not our duty to recommend a way forward, one possible avenue to consider is that of having a limited, tightly controlled policy, restricting such establishments to a few clearly defined areas. This recognises a key concern raised in the consultation that a nil policy will not result in an elimination of sexual establishments in the borough but will merely drive them underground so it is better to manage and control them.
A second option would be to allow any current recognised sex establishment to continue trading but establish a nil policy on any new ventures in the area, appeasing both current organisations and to some extent the general public. This would require further testing to gage stakeholder opinion. This was supported by Rainbow Hamlets recommended adoption of the Borough of Hackney’s policy of allowing existing establishments to continue but not allowing any new ones.”
The latter has been recommended to Cabinet despite an apparent lack of a clear majority of consultees in favour.
Depressingly, neither this report, or the papers presented to Cabinet, include any reference to academic work. I sent them a summary of my ESRC work in April, and offered to provide expert testimony, gratis, but they did not take up the offer. Sigh.
Watch this space for the outcome of the meeting.