New lap dance clubs licensed in Liverpool, York and Wigan

Three new SEV licences have been granted in the last week. The first was Wigan’s first licensed SEV is Baby Platinum, 54-56 King Street, Wigan, WN1 1BT. There were no objections made. The applicants also succeeded in changing Condition 30 (g) of the Council‟s Standard Conditions, which states:

“The performers shall at all times wear a G-String which shall not be removed as part of the performance, and they shall not expose at any time, wholly or partly, their genitalia”.

To:

“The performer must wear at least a G-string covering the genitalia when not performing a dance. This may be removed during the performance but must be replaced at the conclusion”.
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THe second is Liverpool’s 10th SEV licence, Obsessions, Stanley Street. There were 7 objections, and it is worth noting that there are four other SEVs in the vicinity, as noted by the committee: Rude 38-40 Victoria Street, Angels Paradise 18-20 Cumberland Street, Hush 20 – 22 Matthew Street and Moll Teasers 34 Stanley Street. It is also interesting to note that opposition was voiced from those who felt the club would detract from the welcoming atmosphere of what is identified as Liverpool’s ‘gay village’ (see http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/lap-dancing-club-in-liverpools-gay-quarter-meets-fierce-opposition-from-locals-over-fears-for-growing-lgbt-community-9615584.html)

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The third club is in York, a city with one SEV already, and where opposition has been voiced towards the presence of both by a number of individual. Tokyo club, 3-5 Toft Green, received 11 objections including some from the Hilton hotel and Saftestay Tourist Hostel, which felt the club could impact on tourist revenue. A number of nearby sensitive locations were also noted in the committee papers, as emphasised in objections from the York Feminist Network.

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Leeds ‘Silks’ plans new premise

Not entirely sure about this one, but looks like the Silks club in Leeds, whose licence renewal indicated it could not run beyond June 2014,, have identified another premise in Leeds on Assembly street, quite close to the West Yorkshire Playhouse. It is visible on the Leeds planning database but it is not open for consultation yet. If planning permission is granted it would still require an SEV licence, which could be refused given the proximity of any number of ‘sensitive’ land uses. Moreover, it would require an alcohol licence, and it is in a ‘saturation’ area. Will update as soon as I have more information…could be interesting given the more restrictive SEV policy bought in by Leeds City Council and its success in defending this policy at judicial review.

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Birmingham Paradise Club SEV refused

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On 4th November 2013 Eutony Limited submitted an SEV licence application in respect of Paradise Club, 240 Broad Street, Birmingham: a number of objectors opposed the application. The hearing was finally convened on the 12th February 2014, with the Committee ultimately suggesting:

“That following consideration of the representations made by the applicants and objectors and following careful consideration of the Birmingham City Council Sexual Entertainment Policy dated 3 January 2011, the Committee determined to refuse the application for the grant of a Sexual Entertainment Licence in respect of Paradise, 1st and 2nd floor, 240 Broad Street, Birmingham, B1 2HG, for the following reason: That in accordance with Schedule 3 paragraph 12(3) of the Local Government (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1982 as amended, Members were of the opinion that it would be inappropriate to grant the licence having regard to the character of the relevant locality being Broad Street due to the close proximity of family orientated activities and entertainment, particularly hotels, restaurants and family accommodation”.

The solicitors acting on behalf of the applicants made a threat of judicial review on the basis that the decision was ‘irrational, perverse and unreasonable’ on a number of bases:

1. ‘There is no way of drawing a meaningful distinction between the situation of the other three SEVs on Broad Street and Paradise Club on Broad Street, such that Broad Street is a suitable character area for those three, and not the fourth. The Committee has not attempted to divide Broad Street into further distinct character areas, in order to exclude Paradise Club, and nor could it, as no such distinctions exist. The Council cannot justify the difference in its approach to the three existing SEVs, and Paradise Club.’

2. ‘The Committee has concluded that hotels and restaurants in the vicinity of Paradise Club are properly described as “family oriented”. This is factually incorrect; and therefore perverse and unreasonable. Hotels and restaurants on Broad Street are not reasonably categorised as “family oriented activities and entertainment”. Families may attend these types of premises, but they are not specifically aimed at families, and families, as a demographic group, are no more likely to attend such premises than any other demographic. No other family oriented activity or entertainment is particularly close to the location of Paradise Club on Broad Street, and certainly no closer than it is to any of the other SEVs on Broad Street. There is no explanation in the Committee’s decision as to the distinction they drew between “hotels” and “family accommodation”.’

3. ‘The Committee’s refusal is a transparent attempt to impose a “cap” on the number of SEVs in Broad Street, but this is not what the reason for refusal says, and this is an unlawful approach to doing so.’

On this basis Birmingham City Council legal advisers suggested the original decision should be quoshed, and considered anew. This was done, and once again the application was rejected. In this case, the Public Protection Committee chairman Barbara Dring stated that: “The committee accepted the clustering of a further sexual entertainment venue would be a powerful indication that the Broad Street area could become or come to be perceived as an adults’ only locality within the city, this was considered inappropriate…The committee also concluded a further sexual entertainment venue – effectively a fourth in Broad Street – would be inappropriate with the developing family and cultural character of the locality. A fourth sexual entertainment venue in this locality would be one sex establishment too many.”

In effect this means Birmingham has imposed a cap of 3 SEVs on Broad Street, and set down some principles suggesting that 3 clubs might acceptable, but 4 would constitute a ‘cluster’. Given the proximity of other SEVs is a material consideration in the granting of an SEV licence, one assumes this is the end of the road for this particular proposal. However, it is worth noting there were only 8 objections to the granting of the licence…