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…

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