UK Sex Sells News

 2004

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31st December

    Don't Ask About Tolerance Zones

From The Scotsman

A political strategy to deal with prostitution has come under fire because no-one spoke to any vice girls. Social workers and council housing officials have spent more than a year hatching the plans whose aims include supporting women wanting out of the sex industry.

The strategy is also expected to look at ways of helping protect working prostitutes and minimise the disruption to local residents. But the head of an influential city council committee has hit out at their work after discovering they had not spoken to any prostitutes.

Councillor Marilyne Mac-Laren, who serves as convener of the city’s community services scrutiny panel, said she was "disgusted" that no contact had been made. She said: I find it patronising to the extreme that the council is designing a future strategy on prostitution and nobody has asked the women about their views. It’s important to give them a stake in the process. How can you understand what these women’s needs are if you don’t talk to them?

Cllr MacLaren also questioned why the long-awaited work-in-progess aimed at tackling the issue was taking so long to produce. The criticism comes after the council agreed to provide 10,000 in emergency funding to bail-out prostitutes’ support group Scotpep.

Politicians and residents in areas where vice girls have plied their trade since the city’s tolerance zone was scrapped in 2001 have claimed that Scotpep does not do enough to convince prostitutes to quit the business. But councillors have also conceded that problems caused by street prostitution in Leith would likely be worse without Scotpep.

Scotpep co-ordinator Ruth Morgan Thomas agreed that a local strategy was required and that the prostitutes needed to be consulted on it. She said: I think we would expect sex workers to be consulted in the drafting of this strategy. Sex workers are part of the solution and they have to be included.

City social work leader Kingsley Thomas confirmed that the strategy was almost completed and was expected to be published early next year. But he stressed there had been extensive talks with representatives of Scotpep - which would be taken into account alongside concerns raised by residents. He said: Scotpep is an advocacy group for the women and one of its roles is to make their views known.

But Cllr MacLaren dismissed their responses as "pathetic". She said: If the council were consulting with elderly people, it wouldn’t just go to Age Concern. They would actually go out and have discussions with elderly people. Why is it that prostitutes are being totally ignored and treated differently than everyone else?

Earlier this month, an expert group appointed by the Executive recommended "managed areas" for street prostitution should be set up to minimise the impact on communities. It also suggested the law banning soliciting should be scrapped in favour of new legislation against "offensive behaviour" by those involved in buying or selling sex.

 

19th December

    Scantily Brained Censors

From the Yahoo News

Posters for Stringfellows, the well-known table-dancing club, have been criticised by the advertising watchdog.

The venue used billboard posters carried on the back of lorries driving in London to promote themed nights.

One advert was worded "Sexy Lingerie Party 100 Nude Dancers" and featured a scantily-clad woman sitting on a chair with her legs apart.

The second poster began with "St Trinian's Party" and showed two women wearing school uniforms, miniskirts and lingerie.

A member of the public contacted the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) to complain the posters were "offensive" as the first was "degrading to women" and the second "featured young women in school uniforms in suggestive poses".

Stringfellows , based in London's Covent Garden, told the ASA the posters were aimed at its target audience of "city executives".

It said the posters were no more offensive than generally accepted lingerie advertisements, such as Wonderbra's 'Hello Boys', common in poster and print advertising.

The ASA disagreed, claiming both posters were likely to cause serious or widespread offence.

 

8th December

    Hurdles at Newmarket

Based on an article from the Cambridge News

Plans to open a lap dancing club are set to take a step forward. Alterations to the listed building earmarked for the club in Newmarket are recommended for approval by Forest Heath District Council's planning committee.

But the recommendation does not affect the council's opposition to the change of use of the office building in the High Street, next to nightclub Club M, for a "gentleman's club". The council has refused permission on the trumped up grounds of disturbance to people living nearby and a possible increase in public disorder.

But the organisation behind the scheme, three men from the Midlands named Bell, Newell and Palmer, appealed to the Secretary of State . They also modified plans for internal and external alterations to the building, between Club M and the town's main post office, after they were opposed by council officials.

Now the council's planning committee is set to approve the alterations, which include a single-storey rear extension. A planning officer's report to the committee said the current application had taken on board the concerns of the historical buildings officer, and approval of the works would not affect the council's stand on change of use.

 

4th December

    Soliciting Debate

From the BBC

Sex workers are calling for decriminalisation of their industry. Women working in the sex industry around the world will debate proposed changes to the UK prostitution laws at a conference on Saturday.

The event in London is in response to the government's consultation paper on prostitution, published in July. It launched the UK's first re-think in decades of how to deal with the issue.

But Niki Adams, of the English Collective of Prostitutes (ECP), said the document had not addressed "any of the core issues such as poverty". The ECP sent in an official response and says it wants full decriminalisation of all activities surrounding sex work. Measures such as tolerance zones and licensing have been proven not to work, according to Adams. She said: Few women work in the licensed areas. They just set up a two-tier system. Also, to work in those areas you must register with the police and thus lose your anonymity. Legalisation rather than decriminalisation means you're on the game for the rest of your life."

The ECP also disputes some of the statistics in the consultation paper - such as one saying 95% of street prostitutes have a drugs problem - saying they are "selective". Women who work on the streets and do not use drugs rarely go to the Home Office-funded projects because they do not want to compromise their anonymity, the ECP response states.

In launching the consultation, Home Secretary David Blunkett said he wanted to meet head-on "the devastating consequences of prostitution". The Home Office consultation paper invited comments around a wide range of issues, including creating "managed tolerance zones", registering sex trade workers and licensing brothels.

A 1999 survey estimated that 80,000 women in the UK were involved in the sex trade. Prostitution itself is not illegal in the UK but most of the activities around it, such as soliciting, pimping and running a brothel, are criminal offences.

At Saturday's conference, sex workers from around the world will share their experiences, particularly around the issues of legalisation and decriminalisation.

One delegate, Rachel West of US Prostitutes Collective, also believes the UK government is taking the wrong approach. West said a task force on prostitution in San Francisco, where her organisation is based, had recommended total decriminalisation rather than tolerance zones or licensing. This is the model the UK should be following instead of the mean-spirited and dead-end options in the report .

The consultation period for the Paying the Price document ended on 26 November. A Home Office spokesman said 850 responses had been received. They would now be collated and published next year when the government would decide on what further action, if any, to take, he added.

 

27th November

    Norwich in the Lap of Nutters

Based on an article from the Norwich Evening News

Plans for a lap dancing club in Norwich city centre have been thrown out by councillors with the the very dubious excuse that it would put people off shopping in the area. They claimed that he opening hours and the nature of the venue would be inappropriate to the area.

A few business owners and nutters living near the proposed club in Dove Street were delighted as members of the council's regulatory committee refused the application.

Michael Driver had applied for an entertainment licence to offer singing and dancing, including lap dancing at the former Lock Stock and Manhattans club. His original plans included starting the entertainment at noon every day up until 2am from Sunday to Thursdays and up to 6am on Saturday and Sunday mornings.

Driver and his legal representative Alan Ketford told members of the committee that they had relaxed the times so the club's activities finished at 2am, they would ensure the floors were insulated. He said they were hoping to attract a high-calibre clientele.

But David Johnson, head of Legal Services at the council said: The opening times, even altered, will deter members of the public from using shops below and other shops in the vicinity. Other residents may be upset by the presence of the club and it would adversely effect the character of the area. He said they were grounds for refusal and the plans were dismissed by councillors.

I am disappointed at the result,   Driver said. They talk about the character of the area being affected but what character would that be exactly? It would have been a good venue for the area, clubs like these are plainly successful in a lot of large towns including Ipswich and Newmarket.

Driver who is a leisure and property consultant and used to run Hanks nightclub in Lowestoft added he was now taking legal advice.

 

16th November

    Intolerant Brummies

From ic Birmingham

Birmingham city council chiefs today told the Government they will not back a 'tolerance zone' for street prostitutes.

The idea, mooted in a Home Office consultation on prostitution, was opposed by all three political parties at a city cabinet meeting.

City social care chief Coun Sue Anderson (Lib Dem, Sheldon) confirmed that Birmingham would not follow Liverpool in seeking Government approval to set up red light areas. She said: We have no tolerance for street prostitution in Birmingham.

Instead, efforts would be concentrated on helping women leave the trade behind them through rehousing, education, employment training, drug rehabilitation and treatment for mental health problems.

The decision was taken after city investigation into prostitution found that the red light zone would not be acceptable to residents and would put women at risk.

But a plea from Coun Ken Hardeman (Cons, Brandwood) that council tenants using their homes for prostitution be evicted was not adopted. He said: When we campaigned against prostitution in Edgbaston I rang some of these numbers to find out if they were council homes.

Coun Anderson replied that brothels can be dealt with under anti-social behaviour orders.

 

15th November

    Erotica Nude at Last

From ThisIsLondon

Tens of thousands of people will head to west London next week for an exhibition devoted to sex.

About 75,000 visitors are expected at Erotica - the biggest exhibition of its kind in Europe - at Olympia between 19 and 21 November.

The centrepiece is a live stage by the world's largest fetish club, Torture Garden. Organisers have been given a licence to feature full nudity and there will be more than 200 stands.

 

11th November

    Glaswegians pay for intolerance

From The Daily Record

Council chiefs have launched a 50,000 legal action in a bizarre battle over a lap dancing club. Glasgow City Council have challenged a decision by the local licensing board - which is made up of their own councillors.

The city licensing board gave the go-ahead for lap dancing club For Your Eyes Only to open in Royal Exchange Square.

The rights abusers of Glasgow council have an illegal zero-tolerance attitude towards lap dancing, want that decision overturned in an unprecedented legal move.

In August, a bid to open another club in the same premises was rejected as a threat to public order because the dancers would be nude. Just six weeks later, the licensing board voted seven to six in favour of For Your Eyes Only being allowed to open at the same venue.

Yesterday, a licensing expert said the dispute showed how flawed the system was. He added: You only need to look at who picks up the tab. The loser picks up the costs, but here it will be the public who are footing the bill. It is hard to see how the council has a case. The previous refusal was made to a different applicant and in that instance nudity was the issue.'

A City Council spokesman said: We can confirm that a writ has been lodged at Glasgow Sheriff Court.'

 

28th October

    Searching for Sex

From news.com.au

Internet users are doing far fewer searches for sex and pornography and more for e-commerce and business than they were seven years ago, researchers say in a new book.

Twenty per cent of all searching was sex-related back in 1997, now it's about 5 per cent, said Amanda Spink, the University of Pittsburgh professor who co-authored web Search: Public Searching of the web with Pennsylvania State University State professor Bernard J. Jansen.

It's a little bit more in Europe, 8 to 10 per cent, but in comparison to everything else, it's a very small percent, Ms Spink said. People are using (the web) more as an everyday tool rather than as just an entertainment medium.

Ms Spink said her studies showed queries for e-business or commerce increased by 86 per cent over the past seven years.

In one study detailed in their book, Spink and Jansen randomly selected thousands of search sessions from more than 1 million they culled anonymously from search engines such as AltaVista. They tracked the type of search terms used, how many search terms were entered and how deeply into the results computer users clicked for information.

What hasn't changed much in seven years is how hard people are willing to work at searching. The answer: Not very. Spink and Jansen found that people averaged about two words per query and two queries per search session.

The searches are taking less than five minutes and they're only looking at the first page of results, Spink said. That's why people are wanting to get their results on the first page of search engine results.

 

24th October

    Top Service

From ic Birmingham

A women's nutter group staged a picket outside a Birmingham pub to protest at the introduction of a new topless barmaid service.

The Brighton Hotel, on the corner of Brighton Road and Ladypool Road in Balsall Heath, launched the initiative three weeks ago on Friday and Sunday nights and has seen a marked increase in customers. A spokesman for the pub said it was a family establishment and that women still visited the pub when the topless barmaid was working.

But protesters claim there is considerable opposition, saying it degrades women and is unwelcome in a residential area.

Mother-of-three Cath Day, who constructed a plywood banner embossed with the slogan 'Breasts are for Babies, Not Business', picketed the pub along with four other women.

They are using a woman's body to get profits up. Quite simply, it is degrading. There are many women, from all different communities, who disapprove of what this pub is doing, but for some celebrating Ramadan they don't feel they can get involved. This is not the sort of thing to have in a residential area. We already have a lap-dancing club on Moseley Road."

David Fields, a spokesman for the Brighton Hotel, said customer numbers had improved dramatically. She doesn't strip or dance, that would be breaking the law. She just serves pints, nothing else. The windows are blacked out so no offence is caused to passers-by.

 

18th October

    Not Toppled Yet

From ic Renfrewshire

Rumours that A Bit Off The Top was closing down swept through Paisley after a 'For Sale' sign was put in place outside the Canal Street salon. But bosses have insisted the shop merely has a new landlord - and said it remains business as usual.

Scott Anderson, co-owner of A Bit Off The Top, told the Paisley Daily Express: " I'm afraid I have to disappoint our critics by informing them that the salon is still very much open for business. People might have spotted the For Sale sign outside the salon and jumped to the wrong conclusion but I can assure everyone that we are not closing down. All that has happened is that the owner of the building we occupy decided to sell it and, as sitting tenants, that means we will be dealing with a new landlord."

A Bit Off The Top, which is the UK's first topless barber's shop, caused outrage when it opened its doors in July.

Customers pay to have their hair cut by a topless girl in a private booth. A 30-minute topless massage in the relaxation room is also available, with a complimentary beer included for all customers.

Salon bosses did not need permission from police or Renfrewshire Council to go ahead with the venture.

However, protesters - including SNP MSP Sandra White and retired Paisley minister, the Reverend Tom Cant - have branded A Bit Off The Top as disgusting and degrading to women and have vowed to run the salon out of town.

They waved placards which read 'No Porn in Paisley' and 'Shame On You All' as the salon opened for business.

 

8th October

    Macrovisioned R18s

Thanks to Ian

Up until now, all the R18 classified dvd's that I've bought have been copyable to VHS with no extra equipment other than the dvd-vcr connection. However, I have just received two R18 discs, 'British Amateurs from Leeds' and 'British Amateurs from Birmingham' and found that the discs are copy-protected - when I played the videotape back the picture was in black & white and wobbly, and the sound was absent.

I would like to ask if you know anything about this. Are all R18's going to be copy-protected from now on? I would be very grateful to you if you could offer any help in this matter or point me towards a relevant source of information. I did look around the Melon Farmers website first to try to find anything on this topic, but couldn't find anything pertinent.

Ian, Any distributor who cares to pay the fee to a company called Macrovision can turn on your DVD's facility to mess up the synch pulses. I guess that Macrovision  isn't the norm on R18s as the fee may not be worth it for a small dirstribution. It is common on Hollywood DVDs

The video manufacturers have colluded with Macrovision such that they allow the eroneous signal to mess up the video recorded. TVs simply ignore that part of the signal and everything is fine.

There are two ways around the problem:

  • Buy a synch corrector box (it is so simple that the circuit can even be built into a scart connector)

  • Get a DVD player that has been chipped so that Macrovision signal corruption is disabled

 

14th September

    Postman Prat

Based on an article from ic Birmingham

Some posties are angry after bosses ordered them to deliver flyers for a hard-core erotica firm. Workers at one Midland depot say they have been forced to to do their job and slip the saucy mailshots through letterboxes across the region.

Each racy flyer includes an envelope with a busty blonde on the cover, while inside an order form invites customers to send off for hardcore videos, sizzling DVDs or sex toys.

Underneath, a slogan reads: ‘Pabo... Devoted to your pleasure.’ Pabo is the mail order division of giant German porn firm Beate Uhse, the biggest erotica firm in Europe.

The trouble centres on the Royal Mail’s Lyng Lane depot in West Bromwich and began when the company agreed to deliver Pabo’s flyers during regular rounds.

The agreement - called ‘door-to-doors’ - usually covers tame promotional material for high street companies. It is not clear how much the Pabo contract is worth to the Royal Mail.

A spokesman for the Communication Workers’ Union said: Royal Mail managers should be dealing with this issue with a degree of common sense - but then that is not something they are renowned for.We already have a ‘con-science clause’ in place for election mailshots, which allows postal workers to opt out of delivering controversial material such as BNP campaign literature. Managers should be flexible and apply this clause to the flyers.”

But the Royal Mail has defended the deal.

A spokesman said: The content of the advert material is regulated by the Advertising Standards Authority and this item was cleared by them before we accepted the mail contract. Any of our delivery staff who have concerns about the item will be able to discuss them on an individual basis.

 

7th September

    The Economics of Repression

From The Economist Attitudes to commercial sex are hardening. But tougher laws are wrong in both principle and practice

Two adults enter a room, agree a price, and have sex. Has either committed a crime? Common sense suggests not: sex is not illegal in itself, and the fact that money has changed hands does not turn a private act into a social menace. If both parties consent, it is hard to see how either is a victim. But prostitution has rarely been treated as just another transaction, or even as a run-of-the-mill crime: the oldest profession is also the oldest pretext for outraged moralising and unrealistic lawmaking devised by man.

In recent years, governments have tended to bother with prostitution only when it threatened public order. Most countries (including Britain and America) have well-worn laws against touting on street corners, against the more brazen type of brothel and against pimping. This has never been ideal, partly because sellers of sex feel the force of law more strongly than do buyers, and partly because anti-soliciting statutes create perverse incentives. On some occasions, magistrates who have fined streetwalkers have been asked to wait a few days so that the necessary money can be earned.

So there is perennial discussion of reforming prostitution laws. During the 1990s, the talk was all of liberalisation. Now the wind is blowing the other way. In 1999, Sweden criminalised the buying of sex. France then cracked down on soliciting and outlawed commercial sex with vulnerable women—a category that includes pregnant women. Britain began to enforce new laws against kerb-crawling earlier this year, and is now considering more restrictive legislation (see article). Outside a few pragmatic enclaves, attitudes are hardening. Whereas, ten years ago, the discussion was mostly about how to manage prostitution and make it less harmful, the aim now is to find ways to stamp it out.

The puritans have the whip hand not because they can prove that tough laws will make life better for women, but because they have convinced governments that prostitution is intolerable by its very nature. What has tipped the balance is the globalisation of the sex business.

It is not surprising that many of the rich world's prostitutes are foreigners. Immigrants have a particularly hard time finding jobs that pay well; local language skills are not prized in the sex trade; prostitutes often prefer to work outside their home town. But the free movement of labour is as controversial in the sex trade as in any other business. Wherever they work, foreign prostitutes are accused of driving down prices, touting “extra” services and consorting with organised criminal pimps who are often foreigners, too. The fact that a very small proportion of women are trafficked—forced into prostitution against their will—has been used to discredit all foreigners in the trade, and by extension (since many sellers of sex are indeed foreign) all prostitutes.

Abolitionists make three arguments. From the right comes the argument that the sex trade is plain wrong, and that, by condoning it, society demeans itself. Liberals (such as this newspaper) who believe that what consenting adults do in private is their own business reject that line.

From the left comes the argument that all prostitutes are victims. Its proponents cite studies that show high rates of sexual abuse and drug taking among employees. To which there are two answers. First, those studies are biased: they tend to be carried out by staff at drop-in centres and by the police, who tend to see the most troubled streetwalkers. Taking their clients as representative of all prostitutes is like assessing the state of marriage by sampling shelters for battered women. Second, the association between prostitution and drug addiction does not mean that one causes the other: drug addicts, like others, may go into prostitution just because it's a good way of making a decent living if you can't think too clearly.

A third, more plausible, argument focuses on the association between prostitution and all sorts of other nastinesses, such as drug addiction, organised crime, trafficking and underage sex. To encourage prostitution, goes the line, is to encourage those other undesirables; to crack down on prostitution is to discourage them.

Plausible, but wrong. Criminalisation forces prostitution into the underworld. Legalisation would bring it into the open, where abuses such as trafficking and under-age prostitution can be more easily tackled. Brothels would develop reputations worth protecting. Access to health care would improve—an urgent need, given that so many prostitutes come from diseased parts of the world. Abuses such as child or forced prostitution should be treated as the crimes they are, and not discussed as though they were simply extreme forms of the sex trade, which is how opponents of prostitution and, recently, the governments of Britain and America have described them.

Puritans argue that where laws have been liberalised—in, for instance, the Netherlands, Germany and Australia—the new regimes have not lived up to claims that they would wipe out pimping and sever the links between prostitution and organised crime. Certainly, those links persist; but that's because, thanks to concessions to the opponents of liberalisation, the changes did not go far enough. Prostitutes were made to register, which many understandably didn't want to do. Not surprisingly, illicit brothels continued to thrive.

If those quasi-liberal experiments have not lived up to their proponents' expectations, they have also failed to fulfil their detractors' greatest fears. They do not seem to have led to outbreaks of disease or under-age sex, nor to a proliferation of street prostitution, nor to a wider collapse in local morals.

Which brings us back to that discreet transaction between two people in private. If there's no evidence that it harms others, then the state should let them get on with it. People should be allowed to buy and sell whatever they like, including their own bodies. Prostitution may be a grubby business, but it's not the government's

 

1st September

    The Second Coming

Based on an article from The Scotsman The organisers of a city erotica festival are being harangued by nutters after billing the event as "The Second Coming". The ad campaign for the Festival Erotique at the Corn Exchange has attracted a complaint.

Anti-porn nutters have condemned the local authority for awarding the event a licence.

Officials at the Advertising Standards Authority today confirmed that a complaint had been lodged complaining that publicity for the event was "degrading to women" and offensive on religious grounds.

If upheld by the organisation, all advertising for the event, which is being held from September 3-5, would be officially banned and is likely to impact on future campaigns promoting the festival.

Meanwhile, the city council, which has sanctioned the three-day event, has ordered the website address for the event to be blanked out on six huge billboards after a string of complaints from members of the public.

The festival is being held for the second year in a row in Edinburgh, with organisers confidently predicting that up to 15,000 people will attend this year, 50 per cent more than flocked to the Corn Exchange last year.

This year’s event includes an appearance by a self-styled sex witch who once helped the late Princess Diana, visits by several top porn stars, the chance to sample a "school of lap dancing" and dozens of exhibitors, including an erotic barber and a company specialising in water beds.

A spokeswoman for the ASA said: I can confirm that we received a complaint on August 10 that the adverts were degrading to women and that the phrase ‘The Second Coming’ is religiously offensive. We’ve now launched a formal investigation into the case and have invited the advertisers to respond to the complaint that has been made. It will then be up to our council to come to a decision on whether the complaint should be upheld or not. If it is upheld, all the posters will have to come down immediately and the advertisers will be told not to take this kind of approach again as it will be likely to cause offence.

Catherine Harper, a nutter with the Scottish Women Against Pornography action group, said: These posters are very offensive, very sexist, overtly sexual and extremely offensive on religious grounds and they are on huge billboards all over the city. There is absolutely no need to be taking out public advertising and I can remember the organisers promising not to do this kind of thing before they got their licence. The only advertising of this event should be within the porn industry."

A spokesman for Festival Erotique said: "Council officials asked us last week to remove our website address from our billboards after they had a number of complaints from members of the public. It’s obviously an adult-content website, so we were more than happy to comply with the council request. The arrangement we had with the council was that there would be no fly-posting and that the only posters we would put up would be on these six billboards around the city. "

A spokeswoman for the council’s licensing department said: "As a condition of their licence, Festival Erotique should have obtained council approval for any public advertising. They did not. The council conducted its own investigation into the complaints and decided to grant retrospective approval for the billboard advertising, provided the reference to the web address was removed, as the site contains inappropriate material for public advertising. While we regret the billboards have caused offence to some people, we don’t believe they represent grounds to suspend the licence. Usually licences can only be suspended if there is serious threat to public order or safety.

 

27th August

    Butthead Travel

Based on an article from ic Berkshire

A travel agent today told how they forked out 400,000 to stop a lap dancing club opening next door.

Barrhead Travel managers were outraged at the prospect of the club moving into basement premises at the Radisson Hotel in Glasgow city centre. So the firm bought the lease of the unit themselves and launched an expansion, creating up to 100 new jobs in the process. The new internet customer service centre is expected to cost the travel firm 425,000 in the first year.

London-based lap dancing chain For Your Eyes Only had earmarked the Oswald Street site and lodged an application for a licence with the council. But Barrhead Travel chief executive Bill Munro said: A large proportion of our staff are female and we did not want them coming into contact with intoxicated customers coming and going from the club. We are a family business and there's only about 3ft between our office and the unit entrance. There is a place for these clubs but we didn't want one as a neighbour.

 

24th August

  Police Harassment in Reading

Based on an article from ic Berkshire

Police uncovered a 'sex dungeon' during raids as part of an harassment campaign against the sex trade in west Reading.

The sophisticated chamber was a converted back bedroom in a ground-floor flat in Regents Court where three women aged in their 20s and 30s were arrested on suspicion of prostitution.

The raid was one of three carried out simultaneously at 1.30pm on Tuesday.

Five women and a 53-year-old man were arrested at a massage parlour at 263 Oxford Road, and police seized paperwork from nearby sex shop Devoted to Pleasure.

At 8am the same day, a man and woman aged 41 and 43, were arrested at their home in Hook, Hants, on suspicion of running a brothel in Reading.

Inspector Dave Griffiths said: It's part of a larger enquiry and helping us to look at the issue of the sex trade in the Oxford Road. When the sex industry starts to impact on the local community we will act.

 

23rd August

    Licensing Abuse

Based on an article from the BBC

An application to open a new lap dancing club in Glasgow has been refused by the city's licensing board. The building backs onto the Mas club in Royal Exchange Square, in the city centre.

The decision to refuse the application was made on dubious grounds supposedly that it would breach two sections of the Licensing (Scotland) Act.

Glasgow City Council's shameful deputy leader, Jim Coleman welcomed the move, saying such clubs were not wanted in Glasgow. He said: Again we have seen a proposal for a strip club dressed up as up-market harmless fun to be provided to lonely corporate businessmen.  We know however that these are enterprises where women are exploited sexually and financially. This council has taken a stand against the proliferation of such venues in the belief that they exploit and demean women and hamper our bid to promote gender equality. I'm delighted with the decision and I hope it sends out a clear message that these clubs are not wanted in Glasgow.

The licensing board cannot comment on the move as it may be the subject of an appeal in the next 21 days.  In making its decision, it said the use of the premises were "unsuitable" for the sale of alcohol. (yeah yeah!) . The board said that the sale of alcoholic drinks was likely to cause undue public nuisance, or be a threat to public order and safety.

There are four lap dancing clubs in Glasgow - Diamond Dolls, Legs n Co, the Truffle Club and Seventh Heaven.

Earlier this week a study, commissioned by Glasgow City Council, suggested that clubs be licensed as sex shops. (Note that it was commissioned from feminist activists so it was hardly surprising that it confirmed Coleman's views)

 

19th August

    Stretched Jurisdiction

From Reuters

Strippers and pole dancers should be banned from performing in stretch limousines, according to a British report.

Councillors from the mountainous Welsh county of Gwynedd said many limousine hire companies were providing erotic dancers as entertainment for clients, but agreed in-car striptease was "inappropriate."

Lately, stretch limousines have been used more and more, said the report prepared for the council's licensing committee. Some operators are providing entertainment to clients within the vehicle which may involve inappropriate activities such as lap dancing, giving rise to concerns about indecency.

The report did not make clear how many companies were offering motorized pole dancing in North Wales.

The report recommended changes to the licensing of limousines, including a blanket ban on striptease, lap dancing, pole dancing and "any other activity or performance of a like kind."

 

17th August

    Repressed by a Dodgy Glasgow Council

Thanks for the background update from Gary

A little background research proves very revealing about Julie Bindel, the author of the report commissioned by Glasgow City Council into lapdancing venues.

Have a look at some of these links for an insight into her views, and ask yourself whether the council really expected any conclusions other than the ones she gave, given her background...

www.writewords.org.uk/interviews/julie_bindel.asp
www.allwomencount.net/EWC%20Sex%20Workers/guardian.htm

This has been a personal crusade for the council ever since they were told that they cannot refuse licences simply because they don't like the clubs, but can only do so if they can show the applicant to be unfit to hold a licence. Along with this, they continue to refuse all sex shop licence applications (and have made the fee for these a ludicrous 10,000, non-returnable even when the licence is refused!), and they refuse point blank to consider prostitution tolerance zones (although at least two unofficially exist).

The man behind this is Councillor Jim Coleman, a truly worthy contender for your Hall of Shame. Jim rose to prominence through his role in the licencing board in the early 90s, when he introduced the notorious curfew to all Glasgow clubs as a sledgehammer response to rising levels of violence. For many years in Glasgow, if you weren't in a club by 12.30am, you couldn't get in at all, the logic somehow being that trouble was caused by people wandering from club to club!
  Based on an article from the BBC

The study, commissioned by the nutters of Glasgow City Council, has suggested that clubs should be licensed as sex shops. Councillors have also called for VIP suites in the clubs to be banned.

Compulsory closed circuit TV is also suggested. The moves, though, will not apply to two clubs which are applying for licences later this week.

The council said the 7,000 report provides local authorities with the ammunition to class lap dancing clubs as being part of the sex industry, rather than the leisure industry as their owners argue.

The biased study said dancers are humiliated and that employment legislation, and licensing conditions, are regularly breached. The probe found that dancers are sometimes ordered "to dress like sluts" and that many are in debt, increasing the pressure on them to be sexually available.

One club, the report said, had a room where dancers were regularly left with customers unsupervised, and there was a bowl of condoms on a table.

Shameful Council deputy leader Jim Coleman said: It exposes the myths of up-market harmless fun provided to lonely businessmen, the perception of well run, luxurious gentlemen's clubs and dancers making loads of money. What we see in the findings of this report is women being exploited in a number of ways: sexually, financially and through very poor employment conditions."

He added: This council has taken a stand against the proliferation of such venues in the belief that they exploit and demean women and hamper our bid to promote gender equality. Under the current legislation lap dancing is seen in the same light as karaoke, live music and discotheque. This can't be right. (Of  course refusing to allow legitimate adult entertainment leads to much unnecessary suffering as the girls are forced to go underground outside of the protection of law)

Glasgow has four lap dancing clubs - Diamond Dolls, Legs 'n' Co, The Truffle Club and Seventh Heaven.

A spokesman for Seventh Heaven said: We have a really strict policy at Seventh Heaven, even if a girl is seen swapping phone numbers with a customer she is dismissed and he is asked to leave. Nothing like that goes on here, if it were to happen the girls would be the first ones to tell us and it is something we would come down hard on.

He said the club was already covered by CCTV cameras both for the girls safety and because we don't want anyone to break the rules - customers or the girls .

Steve Campbell, promoter at Diamond Dolls, also denied that sex was for sale at that club. He said: We have not seen the full report yet but what we have heard we don't agree with. The prostitution angle is an easy one to pick up on but it's ridiculous, it really is a world apart from that.

The council is objecting to this week's two applications for clubs but the report cannot be taken into account because it did not form part of the original objection.

Edinburgh City Council has already asked Holyrood ministers to grant licensing boards greater powers to control pubs and clubs where lap-dancing takes place.

 

15th August

    Shame in Peterborough

Based on an article from a Peterborough paper

David Keetley, licence holder at Faith nightclub, in Geneva Street, Peterborough, has applied for a licence to open a table-dancing club in Northminster.

Two applications have been submitted to Peterborough Magistrates – for a liquor licence and late opening hours certificate at Earlham House. A further public entertainments licence application has been made to the city council.

Keetley, managing director of VIP Leisure Ltd, which owns the Faith nightclub, said: This is a new company set up specifically to trade in Northminster. Details of who will run the club are yet to be finalised. We are working closely with the police and council to make sure everyone is happy. People are entitled to their own opinion, but table-side dancing is recognised as another form of leisure and clubs are not the seedy places they were 20 years-ago.

Shameful councillor Mohammed Sabir, who selectively represents Central ward, where the club would be based, said it would be wrong for the city. A table-dancing club is not something we should encourage – Peterborough is not that kind of city. It isn't right for us. We already have enough ordinary clubs and people are more into going out with families than this sort of thing. There is a bowling alley close by which families use, and a residential area, and I am sure business owners nearby will not want this sort of thing built."

Fellow ward councillor Abdul Razaq agreed. He said: I have not seen the plans, but generally I would not be happy about this sort of thing and would discourage it.

A venue wishing to put on any form of public dancing in the city must have a public entertainment licence, which are handed out by licensing chiefs at Peterborough City Council.

A decision on the drinks licence and late hours certificate is due to be made by September 27. A decision on the entertainments licence will be taken at a date to be fixed .

 

12th August  

    Certain Level of Councillors

Based on an article from Leeds Today

Licensing chiefs will next Wednesday consider an application for a public entertainment licence which would allow a club called Red Leopard to operate until 6am every night of the week. The club would be based in the former Quo Vardis bar opposite Leeds Town Hall and just a few hundred yards from the war memorial in Victoria Gardens.

The application has run into trouble from shameful Coun Keith Wakefield, the council's Labour group leader, who has called the proposal "disgraceful." Wakefield said: " I am strongly opposed to the opening of such an inappropriate establishment, especially across from distinguished city landmarks such as Leeds Town Hall and the war memorial.
I find it disgraceful and disrespectful that this type of club should be considered within yards of such a poignant memorial, especially when the proposals include Sunday opening. Lap-dancing clubs tend to attract a certain level of clientele and I am sure that members of the public walking along The Headrow do not want to see or hear people stumbling in and out of this place at unsociable hours.


As Quo Vardis, the bar had a public entertainment licence which ran from 8am until 11pm Monday to Thursday, 8am to 1am Friday and Saturday and noon to 12.30am on Sunday. The application would change those hours and allow the Red Leopard to operate from 10am until 6am Monday to Saturday and between noon and 6am on Sunday.

 

10th August

    Edinburgh Blues Festival

Based on a biased article from The Edinburgh Evening News

A West End lap-dancing club has been cleared by the city council to screen porn films during the Festival.

The owner of Fantasy Palace hopes to establish the cinema as a permanent fixture on Shandwick Place. But West End community leaders have warned the move is threatening to create a Scottish version of Soho in one of the Capital’s most prestigious neighbourhoods.

Fantasy Palace has converted one of its three bars into a 100-capacity cinema for at least the duration of the Festival. It will show films carrying the R18 certificate, which are sold in the city’s sex shops.

Owner Gino Di Ponio, 41, said: We’ll see how it goes and think about continuing it after the Festival finishes. I just don’t know how popular it will be. It’s really something new .

Di Ponio has opened the cinema in partnership with entrepreneur Vincent Delicato, who runs the city’s Leather and Lace sex shops and the Festival Erotique in the Corn Exchange.

Customers will be able to see films, with titles such as Flesh Hunter 6 and Rocco Meats Suzie , for 10, which includes entry to the Fantasy Palace’s lap-dancing lounge.

Di Ponio defended the cinema against protesters who said it was lowering the tone of the West End. It just means customers can see the new releases early on the big screen . Vince sells this kind of film in his shop, so we just got together and thought: ‘Why not give it a go?’ The shops in Edinburgh have quite a big clientele for this kind of thing. It also fits in with the other entertainment we have here. We have food and drink and lap dancing - now we have erotic films too.

But angry protesters said the cinema had been allowed to open in the wrong place. Krystyna Robinson, secretary of the West End Community Council, said the new venture was turning the West End into the Capital’s equivalent of Soho. We feel it’s becoming a scene where this kind of public entertainment is becoming more and more prevalent. A porn cinema seems to me the extreme end of the scale. It doesn’t sound very neighbourly to me.

The residents’ protests were echoed by city councillor Tom Ponton, who said: All these things have their place, but preferably in Amsterdam, not in Edinburgh.

The city council said Di Ponio had so far been granted a licence only until the end of the Festival. A council spokeswoman said: If he wants to continue to operate after that time, he will have to reapply.

Conditions have been imposed on the cinema, which include running the venue as a private members’ club, using text-only adverts and having a separate entrance to other bars on the premises. The city council said it would be enforcing those conditions.

The cinema is advertising screenings from "12.30pm until late". Di Ponio added that no customers visited the cinema on its opening afternoon, but he thought that some would visit at night. We probably won’t get many people in the afternoon. It’s more of an evening thing. Also, we only started advertising at the weekend, but we have had quite a few calls from people asking when we’re open .

 

4th August

    Liverpool Nutters

Based on an article from ic Liverpool

Nutters living close to one of Liverpool's red light districts say they will fight plans for a prostitution managed zone on their doorstep.

Liverpool council wants to create a special area where sex workers can operate under the watchful eye of police and health officials.

One of the preferred locations is Kempston Street, near to London Road in the city centre.

Nearby residents, who already have to put up with around 20 prostitutes working the streets around the area every night, fear that giving the trade "official backing" will only encourage kerb crawlers from across the north west to come to Liverpool.

Mrs Daniels said: If the council chooses Kempston Street, which is most likely, the prostitutes and kerb crawlers will be less than five minutes from the residential community.

Police clampdowns on the vice trade in recent years have led the prostitutes to move to more residential areas.

The aim of the managed zone is to get every vice girl in the city based at one location.

Mike Creer, manager of the council's criminal justice intervention programme, said: The aim of the managed zones is to get the vice trade away from those communities intoa controlled environment. Kempston Street is one of the areas which meets the criteria but it is by no means certain that the managed zone will be there.

 

16th July

    Massaging the Law

From the Independent

Radical proposals to overhaul the law on prostitution were being unveiled by Home Secretary David Blunkett today.

The highly controversial option of decriminalising brothels was expected to be put forward in a major new consultation document.

Blunkett hinted that brothels disguised as "legitimate" businesses such as massage parlours will no longer be tolerated. There is a growing trade in selling sexual services in premises licensed for other activity, including massage and also video and film , wrote the Home Secretary. Prostitution must not be concealed behind the facade of legitimate business. He admitted that existing laws were "outdated, confusing and ineffective.

Licensed brothels were expected to be one option put forward in today's document as a way of cleaning up the sex industry. Ministers were also expected to ask for views on whether the government should go ahead with "tolerance zones" for street prostitution.

Some experts believe the zones could be set up in non-residential areas to keep "street walking" call girls and their clients away from passers-by.

The paper was expected to propose toughening the law against pimps, brothel keepers and clients. But at the same time it was likely to propose new moves to help sex workers escape the industry - particularly by trying to sever the links between prostitution and organised crime.

It was likely to set out moves to reduce the number of prostitutes hooked on Class A drugs such as heroin and crack cocaine by offering adequate drug treatment, housing and education measures.

There must also be "the right intelligence-based approach" to tackle the "stranglehold of pimps" and the gangs trafficking women and girls into the UK to work in the sex trade, Blunkett said.

It will be the first time in decades that the issues surrounding prostitution have been examined in such detail. Blunkett went on: Many of the laws relating to prostitution are outdated, confusing and ineffective. Today's consultation paper is intended as the starting point for the development of a realistic and coherent strategy to deal with prostitution and its serious detrimental consequences for individuals and communities.

This paper looks at the preventative measures that need to be in place as well as the support and protection required by those particularly at risk, or already drawn into this vicious cycle .

Up to 80,000 women are thought to work in the sex trade in Britain - including up to 5,000 children. In London, the Metropolitan Police estimates 70% of call girls are illegal immigrants working off debts to people traffickers.

The Sexual Offences Act 2003 introduced new offences with tough penalties to crack down on pimps and others who exploit children and adults through prostitution, making it an offence to traffic people into the UK for sexual exploitation.

 

10th July

    Cheshire Nutters

Based on an article from ic Cheshire Online

A village pub's strip show has angered nutters in Cheshire who say the pub has gone too far by staging Sunday afternoon exotic dancing sessions across the road from the parish church.

But the landlord of Tarvin's Red Lion Inn is unrepentant - and he claims 80% of the people attending a 'gentleman's fun day' were villagers.

Police and licensing authorities have been monitoring the situation for some time.

The pub manager Tommy Crowe has defended his actions. It was a gentleman's fun day. We will maybe do it again. He said many residents were happy with the event: 'Half the people in Tarvin were here. We allocated 60 tickets and they all went. They were 80% locals and they have asked for more. A policeman came in before it started. We explained everything to him and he went away happy .'

Crowe denied claims extra money was raised to persuade the two girls, who had come from an agency, to take their act a step further. There was a collection for them to come back on but there was nothing immoral about it. Nothing went on other than the girls doing a dance and having a laugh. Everything was blacked out with curtains drawn so no teenagers or kids could see through.

Parish councillors felt compelled to draft a letter after receiving complaints from residents and sent it to the police, Chester City Council and Punch Taverns - which owns the pub.

City council licensing officer Guy Morris explained no entertainment licence was needed for the exotic dancing show. Under the Local Government Miscellaneous Provisions Act 1982, requirement for an entertainment licence has to be more than two artists. However, a licence is needed when it's lap dancing, he said.

 

20th June

    Crawling the Gutters of Scottish Law

Based loosely on an article from The Times

kerb crawlers are to be banned from driving under new plans by the Scottish executive to persecute the sex trade.

Ministers are to introduce a criminal offence of kerb crawling to reduce demand for prostitutes by targeting men who buy sex on the street. (But street prostitution is a direct consequence of the crap laws already in force that refuse to allow properly regulated and advertised brothels).

Although hundreds of prostitutes are persecuted each year, the strategy has unsurprisingly failed to curb the sex trade in Glasgow, Edinburgh and Aberdeen.

At present, men who buy sex can be persecuted using a corrupt interpretation of the law for breach of the peace, however police must find a witness to provide corroboration. This, combined with a reluctance among prostitutes to report said acts, has meant that only a few men are convicted each year.

The legislation will be recommended by an expert group set up by the executive to investigate Scotland’s sex trade.

Frank McAveety, the shameful culture minister, is among those who support a tougher line against kerb crawlers. His constituency is blighted by men who think they are holier than thou and he refuses to consider alternative modes of prostitution that are more acceptable to the community.

Under the new law, kerb crawlers will face an unlimited driving ban and a 1,000 fine.

The executive said: A new law will mean that we can punish people who are causing a lot of harm in communities with their behaviour through more efficient enforcement.  (Does  this mean that we can prosecute law makers who deny human rights on a whim  just to satisfy their own private nutter morality) .

 

14th June

    Visa Refused

From Wired

This month is going to be a big pain in the harness for Bondage.com. The company that processes its credit card payments is pulling out of the adult online business, leaving the site to scramble for alternative ways to accept money.

Under the worst-case scenario, the memberships of Bondage.com patrons will expire on June 27, and they'll all have to sign up again. This is not exactly the kind of torment its customers are looking for.

While no one expects the sites to take down their XXX Live Girls and go home, operators don't like making it hard for customers to get immediate access to porn.

The first big blow came last year, when PayPal decided to stop helping adult sites do business, leaving customers without easy ways to pay for access through checking accounts. Then, last month, major credit-processing company Cardservice International told clients that it would stop supporting the industry as of late June. Now, webmasters worry that Visa will follow the lead of American Express, which left the business in 2000.

It's not clear why Cardservice International, which claims to process more than $12 billion in credit payments a year, will no longer work with online adult businesses. In a brief statement provided to Wired News this week, the California-based company said: We don't believe there is enough benefit from this type of business for our shareholders and employees in the long run.

Neither the statement nor the company's cancellation letter to Bondage.com -- "Cardservice ... has determined not to continue operating in certain segments of this (online) industry" -- referred to the adult industry by name.

While it's possible that Cardservice International is leery of adult material for moral reasons, plenty of mainstream companies, from AOL Time Warner to General Motors, have made a bundle from smut without attracting much controversy. As journalists have documented, hotel chains alone bring in millions each year from pay-per-view porn.

A more likely scenario is that companies in the credit business are leery of the financial risk of supporting online adult sites.

Things have improved but there are still hiccups on the fraud front. Ironically, it seems that the customers, not the site owners, have become the leaders when it comes to ripping people off. Porn sites must fight an eternal battle against subscribers who engage in "friendly fraud" by spawning "chargebacks," Boyer said. They pay to look at porn and then run to their credit card company claiming they never authorized the charges. (The practice is also known as the "gak factor" because of the word husbands utter when their wives ask about their credit card bills.)

We're the naughty adult industry," Boyer said. "Visa is never going to side with us, no matter how much evidence we have that the customer is full of it.

Last year, Visa announced that it would cut off individual online porn sites if chargebacks amounted to more than 1 percent of their proceeds. The previous limit was 2.5 percent. Visa declined to respond to requests for comment or clarification of whether the new chargeback rule applies to a wider range of businesses.

While MasterCard and Discover also continue to support online porn sites, Visa is generating the most heat at Cybernet Expo. "They've labeled us as high-risk and a high-fraud industry," complained Boyer. It didn't help that Visa imposed a $750 fee on some online porn sites in 2003.

Porn sites will certainly survive without the support of Visa and company. While it's notoriously difficult to figure out the size of the online porn industry, some observers estimate it sucks in billions of dollars a year, and the Internet company Websense reported in April that it has nearly 1.6 million adult sites in its database.

Considering those numbers, no one should be surprised that entrepreneurs are already trying to fill any possible holes on the payment front. Smut seekers routinely charge fees to their debit cards and phone bills in credit-card-phobic areas of Europe and Asia, and those billing systems may become more popular in the United States.

But those fixes await in the future. For now, hassles over billing and suddenly lapsed memberships certainly won't do anything to boost the popularity of specific sites. There is a certain sense of urgency to what these merchants are selling, said Scott Rabinowitz, president of Traffic Dude,

 

8th June

    The Game of Life

I presume that the idea of tougher jail terms is hype from the paper. Surely there can be no justification for persecuting such a non-crime as prostitution merely because it suits the noxious intolerant morality of a bunch of religious nutters in the Government. It should be sufficient to repeal all laws concerning controls on (adult consensual) sexual conduct and then ensure everyone's safety and liberty using standard laws on violence, fraud, employment rights, consumer rights etc

From The Independent

Britain's prostitution laws are to undergo their biggest overhaul for 50 years in a government review that could lead to tough jail terms for men who pay for sex.

Ministers are also looking to offer women an escape route out of street prostitution by creating toleration zones where prostitutes can be offered careers counselling and financial advice.

The proposals, to be unveiled by the Home Office later this summer, are expected to offer a "carrot and stick "approach to the regulation of the industry.

Under the current law, paying for sex is not illegal. Instead, prostitution is controlled by strict offences that prohibit associated acts such as kerb-crawling, soliciting, pimping and brothel-keeping.

One of the proposals is to follow the lead of Sweden where men can be imprisoned for up to six months if they are caught paying for sex.

But the focus of the Government's review will be on helping women to escape prostitution by creating managed zones in Britain's cities where they would be offered access to clinics for the treatment of sexual diseases and drug addiction.

Toleration zones, which have been unofficially tried in a number of British cities, including Manchester and Bolton, allow street sex workers to operate in strictly defined areas away from residential streets.

The Home Office review team has heard evidence in support of managed zones from senior police officers, magistrates, drugs advisers and groups representing sex workers in this country.

A similar review is being conducted in Scotland where tolerance zones have been unofficially explored in Edinburgh and Glasgow. Women working in those permissive zones may have to register with the local authorities and face compulsory medical tests.

At the same time, ministers are considering implementing tough laws to prosecute anyone involved in prostitution taking place outside those zones. Tough new measures on customers would only apply to those paying for sex outside the toleration zones.

Chief constables in England and Wales have long argued that prostitution is difficult to police because the law does not tackle the offence directly.

However, representatives of prostitution support groups are concerned the Government's review will give the police powers to intimidate and discriminate against sex workers who do not comply with the regime.

They also want ministers to set up toleration areas for indoor sex workers by introducing Dutch-style licensed brothels.

Hilary Kinnell, the national co-ordinator of the UK Network of Sex Work Projects, says she supports "managed safety zones" but called on the Government to also abolish penalties for sex workers who want to work together in small groups indoors - currently caught by brothel-keeping legislation. She said: We also want respect for human rights including equality before the law, autonomy, liberty and security of the person.

Sex workers and support groups are opposed to mandatory registration and compulsory medical testing which goes on in some other countries such as Greece and Germany.

Sue Jago, the Home Office official co-ordinating the review, recently told a police conference that, in a modern society, turning a blind eye to prostitution was no longer not an option.

It is estimated there are about 80,000 women employed as sex workers in Britain, a number that has remained fairly static for the last five years. But in the same period the industry has become dominated by foreign sex workers.

 

7th June

    Homes for the Vindictive

I have little sympathy for the state that persecutes prostitution and then whinges at the inevitable consequences. Westminster Council should be banged up for gross abuse of human rights and corruption of law not intended for the purpose that it is being used. Where are Westminster council when it comes to shutting down the thuggery of clip joints? Are they only targeting the venues providing customer satisfaction?

Based on an article from The Evening Standard

A 5million bid to persecute the Soho sex industry by buying its most notorious brothels has been launched.

Westminster council plans to compulsorily purchase up to seven houses being used as brothels and unlicensed sex shops in the heart of the red light district.

The properties, each worth about 600,000, are in Peter Street, Great Windmill Street, Berwick Street and Brewer Street. Run-down and divided into flats, they have been used by prostitutes and their clients for more than 20 years.

The council claims the properties will be turned into badly-needed housing for the homeless. But there is strong opposition to the move, which could drive 60 women from the area. Last year the women collected more than 10,000 signatures for a petition saying local residents and businesses do not object to sex workers in Soho.

Cari Mitchell, spokeswoman for the Collective of Prostitutes, described the move as "brutal". She said: If the council goes ahead with the Compulsory Purchase Orders women will have to work on the streets or in unfamiliar areas and are likely to be subjected to more violence.

The Collective of Prostitutes also believes the council will not use the properties for the homeless, but will sell some to private developers.

Westminster's policy of buying properties used by the sex industry began last month, when it won a landmark High Court battle for a compulsory purchase order on a four-storey house in Peter Street. But its residents are refusing to leave, and a demonstration against the cleanup is planned.

A Westminster council spokesman said: Residential properties being used improperly - whether as offices, shops or for prostitution - diminish the number of homes that we desperately need.

 

15th May

    Lower Class Rights in Glasgow

From The Evening Times

Glasgow council bosses are to continue their blanket opposition to all lap dancing applications. Several senior figures within the council are meeting today to discuss objections to the latest two applications to open clubs in the city.

The first, by a group calling itself Privilege Glasgow, wants to open a 'top quality' lap dancing venue on the site of nightclub baron James Mortimer's Mas club in Royal Exchange Square. Although the club hopes to secure Mas as a venue, the team behind the bid insists it is not connected to Mortimer.

The second application is by London-based firm For Your Eyes Only, which also insists it runs a 'high quality operation'. The Evening Times revealed the firm's intentions to move to Glasgow last month and it has now secured premises beside the Radisson hotel on Argyle Street.

Campaigners against the clubs fear their go-ahead could lead to Glasgow becoming a mini-Soho. The council will lodge formal objections to the venues ahead of the licensing board meeting in early June. 

A spokeswoman for Privilege said the company's aims were "the same" as the council's. She said: Privilege shares the same aims and objectives as the city council in that we want the city to become a world class destination.

 

26th April

    Supply and Demand

Based on an article from The Observer with some of the more outrageously loaded words toned down

At first glance, nothing could be further from the neon lights of Soho than a spring afternoon in Cavell Road, Billericay, Essex, filled with birdsong and the shouts of children from a nearby school. Women waiting their turn in Julie's hairdresser fit the popular image of the 'blue-rinse brigade'. Male customers who ask for the sauna services are quietly led through a thick bead curtain to something very different.

'I'm just out of the shower,' smiled the nubile Louise, wearing only a towel. A basic sauna massage will cost 20, says the hairdresser/madam. Extra requirements should be negotiated with the girl.

The affluent residents of Cavell Road, who include City brokers and company directors, know all about Julie's unofficial offerings, but feel powerless to stop it. 'It's disgusting,' said one. We live near a school and it attracts the wrong kind of people. We used to get them parking outside our house. It was so obvious: they're middle-aged baldies. There was a petition to get it closed and we contacted the police, but they didn't do anything.' Another neighbour, who lives in a 400,000, four-bedroom house, said: My worry is house prices and whether they could be affected by this place being here.

Brothels and prostitution are no longer confined to the underside of the big city. In sleepy suburbs, country villages and the bastions of moral conservatism, there are women plying their trade and men willing to pay. And police commonly turn a blind eye, pointing to a lack of local resources and coherent national policy.

The number of people offering sexual services in Britain has increased by a staggering 50 per cent in the past five years, according to new figures obtained from the European Parliament. There are now as many as 80,000 women working as prostitutes in the UK, their numbers swelled by an influx of 20,000 immigrants. In London alone, an academic study found that men spend 200 million a year on sex, almost half in massage parlours and saunas.

Across the UK, the industry is believed to be worth about 770m a year, with street prostitution accounting for only about five per cent. New massage parlours have sprung up in once unlikely places such as Herne Bay, Glastonbury, Lincoln and Highbridge.

In recent months, the courts have heard several cases, which few doubt represent the tip of an iceberg. About 15 women were discovered working above a sex shop called the Pleasure Zone in Darlington, resulting in the owner having 900,000 worth of assets frozen. A supermarket worker running a brothel in Basingstoke was caught after his landlady was greeted by a girl wearing sexy underwear.

Another brothel was found operating out of a caravan on the A1 near Bedale, North Yorks. A former post office worker was caught running one from her home in Newton Abbot, Devon. Six Bulgarian women were found working in a parlour in Swansea by detectives from the National Crime Squad.

Earlier this month, a woman involved in the running Britain's biggest-ever Thai prostitute organisation was ordered to pay back a huge slice of her profits or face 15 months in jail. The organisation was based in Worthing, Sussex, and they also ran a finishing school for prostitutes in Wimbledon, south-west London. Last week a civilian police worker appeared in court accused of living off earnings from a massage parlour in Leicestershire.

Despite these cases, police have spoken about their frustration at losing the war against organised crime gangs exploiting an influx of prostitutes from abroad. So urgent is the situation that the Government is under pressure to consider partial legalisation of prostitution, in so-called tolerance zones, when it publishes a review in June.

The rise in internet use and increasingly relaxed attitudes to sex have been cited as the main reasons behind the surge. Superintendent Chris Bradford of the Met's Clubs and Vice Squad, the largest unit of its kind in the country, said: ' Paying for sex has become a commonplace activity in our society. The internet has opened up new opportunities for people to obtain material that would previously have been available only in adult bookshops. It is my theory that exposure to this has in turn raised the stakes for thousands of men who now want something more than pictures. They are going out on to the streets and finding women who are there to facilitate them. Because of this, we are seeing an increase in demand for prostitution.'

Demand has been met by supply. There are now more women working in the sex industry than ever before, the result, in London particularly, of a dramatic increase in foreign prostitutes. Eight out of 10 women employed in brothels or massage parlours in the capital are now from eastern European or the Balkans. Although prostitution itself is not an offence in Britain, running or recruiting for a brothel is illegal, yet the police say they are powerless to intervene.

Vice Squad officers do visit virtually every massage parlour in the London area - chiefly in search of juveniles and women being held against their will - but say they cannot afford the time or money to close them down.

Penalties will be increased sharply from 1 May, when the new Sexual Offences Act makes it illegal to transport women across borders for the purposes of sexual exploitation, but, according to Bradford, not all who enter Britain come under this definition. Trafficking is a very emotive term. Lots of the women who come here know exactly what they are going to be doing. Many of them have been working as prostitutes in their own countries and earning a pittance. They see Britain as a place where they can do the same work, but earn significantly more. Where it often falls down is that the women find themselves in a form of debt bondage and end up with only a tiny proportion of the money they earn, the rest going to their pimp.'

The change in social attitudes is typified by the boom in lap-dancing clubs in London and elsewhere. Access to sex for sale has never been easier - via the internet, top-shelf magazines, certain newspapers or specialised guides such as McCoy's Guide to Adult Services, which boasts on its cover: Including 448 massage parlours, 38 escort agencies, 144 private flats and houses, 341 individual working ladies, plus assorted erotic parties, dominatrices, working couples and working twosomes.'

The author, George McCoy, also runs a website and a phone line with his 'Pick of the Month: Top Ten Massage Ladies'. He said: Most middle-class friends find what I do quite acceptable. I do after-dinner speeches to Round Tables all over the country. Sometimes one of the guests will come up to me afterwards and talk about his experiences. In the past, it was something they'd never make public, but now they think: "What the hell." There is less stigma about visiting a parlour now than there was 10 or 20 years ago. It's accepted as another feature of everyday life. We are told to be politically correct about everything - you can't drink, you can't smoke - and people just think, "Sod it".

McCoy has become acquainted with many of the women involved. 'There are a lot of single mums trying to make a better living than they can on the checkout at Tesco. There is an increase in Thais and east Europeans. But there are a lot of girls working in flats in middle-class areas, such as Sevenoaks. There are also a lot now charging 400-600 minimum, or thousands for a week.'

Hilary Kinnell, of the UK Network of Sex Work Projects, which represents 60 organisations working with prostitutes, said there was evidence of prostitution spreading from cities into smaller towns to escape active policing. The sudden arrival of prostitutes in Scunthorpe, she claimed, appeared to have been triggered by a crackdown in Doncaster.

With no clear national policy, the 43 police forces in England and Wales are left to their own devices. Only a handful have full-time vice squads, even where significant numbers of prostitutes are known to be operating. Street prostitutes attract the most complaints from residents, so resources tend to be focused on them. In Bradford, police have targeted kerb crawlers and pimps rather than prostitutes. In Southend and the centre of Nottingham, police seek anti-social behaviour orders (ASBOs) against persistent street walkers, breach of which can lead to up to five years' jail.

Liverpool is considering the radical experiment of Dutch-style 'streetwalking zones' in the inner city. Earlier this months, officials from Utrecht in Holland travelled to Merseyside to brief senior police chiefs, civil servants and local councillors. If the scheme were introduced, prostitutes and punters could carry on without fear of arrest between certain hours within the zones. It would include a drop-in centre with a needle exchange, condoms - and advice about routes out of prostitution.

Pimps would be banned, and uniformed police would be on patrol, backed up by CCTV - a response to a string of brutal prostitute murders on Merseyside. The rest of the city would become a no-go zone for sex workers, easing tensions with residents.

But any such experiment first needs Home Office per mission to halt prosecutions, which would mean a change in the law. All eyes in Liverpool are now on the Home Office's review of prostitution law, due in June. Such 'tolerance zones' are expected to emerge as one key option, although Ministers insist the paper is intended only to spark public debate,

Political nervousness about even such limited decriminalisation is high. Home Office Minister Hazel Blears said decriminalisation is an 'unlikely outcome' of the review, because of the clear links between prostitution, organised crime and drugs. In Edinburgh, a pioneering 'tolerance zone' in the Leith docks district was recently abandoned after the area was regenerated and new residents, snapping up its smart warehouse apartments, made their objections known.

But others argue that a fresh clampdown on punters could endanger women. Trish O'Flynn, senior policy officer at the Local Government Association, said: 'The profile of the typical man who buys sex is not a sad, single bloke in his fifties: he's a 30-year-old who's married, with no criminal record and a good job. There is a debate to be had here. Is it just another commercial activity - albeit not a very pleasant one - that people enter by choice and it just should be regulated? Or is it something that is unacceptable, and we should be looking at what motivates people to buy sex and how we could remove the demand?'

How sex laws differ around the world

In Britain , prostitution is not illegal if the prostitute works independently without disturbing the public order. Men who are found buying sex several times in prostitution areas can be fined. It is a crime to advertise, run a brothel or recruit for prostitution.

In Greece , brothels are not allowed within 200 metres of public buildings. Athens considered a proposal for a new law to halve the distance to facilitate prostitution during this summer's Olympics, but decided against.

In the Netherlands , prostitution is legally defined as a profession and prostitutes join the Service Sector Union. They have been required to pay income tax since 1996. Brothels employ 30,000 people.

In Singapore , working women have to carry a 'yellow card' proving they are registered and have recently undergone a twice-weekly health check. Some brothels provide voluntary benefits to keep the prostitutes working there.

In Sweden , it has been illegal to buy or try to buy sexual services since January 1999. Prostitution is considered to be an expression of unequal relations between men and women.

Germany passed a law in December 2002 that gave prostitution legal recognition. Cologne has legalised 'drive-in' brothels, with covered parking, and bedroom and shower facilities.

Prostitution is illegal in the United States , except for Nevada, where 'cat houses' have been legal since 1970. There are up to 40 brothels and more than 300 licensed prostitutes. At the 2.5 million Wild Horse Resort And Spa, working women don latex gloves to give men's private parts a check-up for clinical hygiene

 

18th April

    330 Officials Needed to Raid 2 Brothels

The article  starts with an incredibly biased sentence with many loaded words.:  "Police have smashed an international prostitution racket in which gangmasters smuggled young women into Britain to work in the illegal sex trade". It reads more like a story from my local sensationalist rag rather than an article from a liberal leaning broadsheet.

Based on an article from The Observer

Police raids, resulting in 58 arrests, come as an Observer investigation reveals a 50 per cent increase in the number of prostitutes working in Britain, driven by soaring levels of illegal immigrants. London remains the hub but the prostitution map now spreads from Aberdeen to Torquay. (Shock horror...of course sex is popular in every town...people like sex)

In a fresh 'crackdown' on Friday night, police 'swooped' on two massage parlours in Sheffield and Leeds. Forty seven women, mostly eastern Europeans in their late teens or twenties, and 11 men were arrested. The operation involved 250 officers from South Yorkshire and West Yorkshire police and 80 immigration service personnel. (Heavy handed or what!)

David Blunkett, the Home Secretary, yesterday defied criticism that the Government is losing the fight against people smuggling and sexual exploitation. This operation shows the determination of the police and other agencies to put these people out of business and behind bars, We will remain resolute in our fight against organised immigration crime. (Hold on, it is politicians like Blunkett who cause the problem by criminalising such a basic desire with no apparent respect to people or their rights)

The operation centred on the Omega Sauna Suite at Attercliffe Road in Sheffield and Winston's Health Club in Dewsbury Road in Leeds. At the Omega parlour, 13 women were detained for immigration offences, while another 34 were held at Winston's. The 11 men were held on suspicion of smuggling illegal immigrants and living off immoral earnings.

Ian Daines, assistant chief constable of South Yorkshire police, said yesterday: This is one of the biggest single operations carried out by two forces. Those detained will be questioned about facilitating illegal immigration and living off immoral earnings. We believe the immigrants are from European countries, and they are all adults, generally young women.'

Detective chief superintendent Andy Rennison, from West Yorkshire Police, said checks were being carried out by the immigration service. I would like to stress the women arrested are being viewed as victims of exploitation. But they have to remain in custody until we have established their immigration status.

Update: Prosecution Fails

April 2007

The allegations of trafficking turned out to be bollox and the whole prosecution failed as the police had previously being tolerating the sauna for years.

 

18th April

    A little Off the Top

Based on an article from The Observer

This week Scotland's largest town, Paisley, will once again be at the forefront of British industry when it becomes host to what is thought to be Britain's first topless hairdressers.

Women's groups, anti-porn nutters and church leaders have expressed outrage at the opening of A Bit Off The Top and plan to demonstrate outside the premises when it opens on Wednesday.

But the owners insist there is demand in the town for hairdressing staff working naked to the waist. Four former lap-dancers, three of whom are qualified hairdressers, have so far been recruited, and customers will be able to choose a woman to give them a 25 haircut or a massage in a private booth.

The Rev Tom Cant, the minister at the nearby Laigh Kirk, branded the enterprise 'sordid' and degrading to men and women. There is no place for this shop in Paisley , he added. The shameful West of Scotland MSP Sandra White, who will join the demonstration, has raised a motion in the Scottish Parliament calling for a ban on topless barber shops. This is a massage parlour by any other name, she said.

The Urban Group, which will run the salon, insists there is a demand for this type of shop in Paisley and says it is a bit of harmless fun. A spokesman for the company said the salon would be properly run and assured residents they had nothing to fear. He also revealed plans to have a monthly ladies' night when 'sexy male dancers would keep female customers happy'. He added: 'There are people who don't want the salon here but there are plenty of other people who will want to come along and take advantage of the service we provide. We're aware the salon is controversial but I'm sure that, once we have been open for a while, the people of Paisley will realise that we are not out to cause any harm.

One of the hairdressers, Leanne, told the Paisley Daily Express that she would be happy to keep her bra on if any of her customers were offended by seeing her topless. The 20-year-old said she expected the salon to be popular with men organising a stag night or a birthday treat for their friends. She added: Visiting a topless barbers shop won't be everyone's thing but, if people don't like what goes on here, then they should just stay away. No one is forcing me or any of the other girls to do this. I enjoy meeting different people and working here will be a laugh. This is the twenty-first century and I don't think that working in a topless barbers shop is anything to be embarrassed about. We've all got mortgages and bills to meet and I'll be getting paid well to do a job that is fun.'

Councillor John McDowell said: Like all local authorities, we don't have the power to license this particular type of commercial venture. I would not welcome such an improbable business proposal. I don't believe it would have any benefit to the trading or image of Paisley .

 

4th April

    Well Organised Business

It is about time that bollox laws like this were repealed and brothels were allowed to be properly run for the benefit of everybody concerned. What a waste of tax payers money to harangue a "well organised' business that many good citizens appreciate.

Based on an article from This is the Lake District

A brothel owner from Kirkby Stephen has been jailed for running a North-East prostitution racket. John Middleton also stands to lose around £1 million after a lengthy undercover police operation revealed he was operating brothels in the region.

Middleton had up to a dozen prostitutes working for him at the Pleasure Zone sex shop in Darlington and in a caravan on the A1 near, Bedale, North Yorkshire.

Teesside Crown Court heard three undercover police officers visited the upstairs of the sex shop, known as the Fantasy Ranch, where they were offered a variety of sexual services.

Despite the premises being raided, Middleton continued to offer girls for sale and on some nights, the prostitutes were earning as much as £1,000. A host of ladies, with exotic American names, were available and any sexual desire could be catered for, the court heard. The ranch was regularly visited by men and would often be occupied by soldiers from nearby Catterick Garrison. Jamie Hill, prosecuting, said the brothel owner had made the prostitutes sign an agreement stating sexual activity would not take place.

Middleton had previously pleaded guilty to living off the earnings of prostitution between November 2002 and February 2003 and March 1 and March 14, 2003. His assets of £900,000 have been frozen and will be the subject of a confiscation hearing on June 2.

Hill said Middleton owned several properties including two premises in Darlington, his Barrenthwaite Hall, two homes in Grantham and had timeshares in Florida and Portugal.

The married father-of-one also had 18 bank accounts, some of which were registered under his alias, John Robert Brookes.

Defending, Chris Morrison said there had been no suggestion of Middleton forcing women into prostitution. It was entirely consensual, all with adults, and behind closed doors, , he said.

Sentencing Middleton, judge Tony Briggs said: Y our activities were well organised and involved a significant number of women.

Middleton was sentenced to a year's imprisonment. Catherine McLeod, 63, of Wesley Court, Darlington, admitted aiding and abetting Middleton and was given a two-year conditional discharge.

 

28th February

    Hectoring Table Dancers

Based on an article from The Sunday Mail

Tax avoiding table dancers are to be stripped of their assets in a tax crackdown by the Inland Revenue. Investigators say most of the estimated 1500 women who work as strippers in Scotland are failing to pay any tax. A team from the Inland Revenue's feared Compliance Unit is set to raid lap dancing bars.

They will tell girls who work there to attend interviews at local offices to provide details of their earnings. There are now 15 lap dancing bars in Scotland, where dancers can earn anything up to 200,000 a year. But the Inland Revenue believe they owe millions of pounds in unpaid tax dating back to the late 1990s.

A spokesman for the Inland Revenue whose advertising campaign is fronted by the cartoon inspector Hector said the club raids will be part of a crackdown on Scotland's black economy. He told the Sunday Mail: If people are working and not paying their correct tax or are not registered to pay tax, they should look over their shoulder. Our compliance units across Britain will be looking at a wide range of people who operate within the black economy. Lap dancing is a growing industry where some may feel they do not need to pay tax. But if you are earning over a certain level, you must pay income tax and National Insurance contributions. We do not make any ethical judgements on what people do for a living.

Scotland's first lap dancing club opened six years ago. There are now five in Edinburgh, one in Dundee, four in Glasgow and five in Aberdeen. Most clubs charge around 15 a dance which normally lasts for about three minutes. However, many girls make more from tips, especially in the clubs' VIP suites. A woman working normal opening hours from 9 pm to 3 am can generate up to 750 on a busy night.

Douglas Moffat, owner of the Truffle Club in Glasgow, says he regularly warns the women working for him that they must pay income tax. He added: When they sign a contract we tell them they are liable for paying tax on their earnings, not the club. We always tell them they are better off paying something rather than nothing. In future we may have to consider introducing a voucher system where people pay for the dance in advance then hand the girl a voucher. That would make it easier for the girls and the tax office to keep track of their earnings.

Dancers pay owners like Moffat a ''rental'' charge to work in their club. The club owners make most of their money from the entry fee and bar profits.

In addition to a jail term of up to seven years, dancers who evade tax face paying six per cent interest on unpaid bills and penalties of up to 100 per cent of the outstanding debt.

 

21st February

    Rights Abuse in Glasgow

From The Herald

Revised plans for a table-dancing club in Glasgow have been withdrawn – less than two days after the application had been lodged. The plans were for the same building in Carlton Place where another company scrapped a similar move 20 months ago after the council complained it would "demean and exploit" women.

The council has since become the UK's first local authority to object automatically to any applications for table or lap-dancing clubs on grounds of commercial sexual exploitation.

The latest application involved The Glasgow Oyster One Ltd, which had applied for the provisional grant of an entertainment licence at next month's meeting of the licensing board. However, Jim Coleman, the deputy council leader, confirmed the council would object. He said of the withdrawal last night: It's a sign the message is getting through it won't be easy to open up this kind of enterprise in Glasgow. This is the fourth application to be withdrawn over the last couple of years.

 Oyster One could not be contacted for comment on the U-turn, having earlier declared an intent to pursue the plans

 

21st February

    Viscountess Nutter Long

From The Evening Herald

A viscountess, Lady Helen Long, journeyed from her Newquay home to see for herself what the business was all about.
The vice-chairman of the Newquay Action Group came to Plymouth on a mission to find out the facts about the business following proposals to open a private members' club called For Your Eyes Only in Newquay. Having never been to such an establishment before, she wanted to have an informed view in the debate over whether or not one should be opened in the town centre.

The surprise visit on Thursday night last week lasted a few hours, during which she soaked up the atmosphere and talked to the girls. Lady Long was even given a demonstration of a private lap dance by Selina, who earlier this month won the Exotic and Pole Dancing Competition in Weston-super-Mare.

In an article written by Lady Long which appeared in the Cornish Guardian, she described the dancing as a cross between gymnastics and faking an orgasm . The private lap dance, which would have cost a client 20, felt 'sleazy and demeaning', she said, and was up close, explicit and right in your face rather than on your lap .

Her biggest surprise was that the girls were 'charming', 'good conversationalists' and loved what they did. But she was disappointed by the 'lacklustre atmosphere' and the 'lack of glamour', and concluded it could be 'a disaster' to have one open now in the centre of Newquay. She said: Newquay is too small, too residential and too fragile, poised as it is on the cusp between upgrading itself to a fine holiday resort or becoming so overtaken by sleaze that it alienates everyone and everything else. Advertising lap dancing at this juncture could tip the scales too heavily to the latter."

Temptations manager Marino said he had no idea Lady Long was paying a visit. S he was quite charming and pleasant,She spent most of the night talking to the girls and she even had a private dance to see what that was like. We knew the press were coming but we didn't know that Lady Long was turning up with them .

 

17th February

    Dogged Dogging

Thanks to Chris who spotted this in The Thanet Extra

One of the Kent Councilors, Frank Fox (Tory), has asked for a devoted area for open-air sex, after the council proposed to close several "dogging" spots, specifically on the A249 on the grounds that the people doing this will just "move" somewhere else.

Although not direct censorship, I feel the article is related to your site and therefore worth mentioning.

 

16th February

    Inappropriate Entertainment

Inappropriate council behaviour to suggest that a bar area is inappropriate for a lap dancing venue.

From ic Birmingham

Plans for a lap dancing club in Birmingham' s entertainment district have been dropped, according to a council report leaked to The Birmingham Post. Other bar and restaurant owners in Broad Street, councillors, church leaders and campaigners had objected to Metin Yusuf turning the Merchant Stores into a lap dancing club.

The entrepreneur, who owns the Legs 11 venue, had applied for the public entertainments licence and wanted its conditions varied so he could extend the bar's hours from 10am to 2am every day. He was granted the licence but the city's licensing committee refused to extend the venue's hours because the proposed use as a lap dancing club is inappropriate for the location, according to the council report. Licensing officials blocked his application at Birmingham Magistrates' Court on November 19.

Lawyers representing both sides were due to attend an appeal hearing yesterday, but this was adjourned and Yusuf invited to attend the next committee meeting on Wednesday to put his case to councillors. The council report, prepared by senior assistant director Ian Coghill, also states: New information has been received that Mr Yusuf no longer intends to offer lap dancing entertainment at the premises.

The report says a barrister, who was conducting the appeal on the council's behalf, has recommended the committee should reconsider Yusuf's application to extend the bar's opening hours in light of the new information .

 

4th February

    Gay Bollox

Owners of bars and clubs in Newcastle's gay area are fighting the proposal of a lap-dancing club nearby, claiming its introduction could create a volatile mix of people in the area.

Developers are keen to transform the city's Sugar Bar into a lap-dancing club for straight men, tentatively called Privilege.

But gay business owners are worried that by building such a "heterosexual venue", lesbian and gay people will be discouraged from visiting the area. They add that single women in the area may encounter harassment from people visiting the club, and that men may spill out into the surrounding gay bars.

It's an area that attracts gay people from all over the country every night of the week and they feel safe there. This would put that in jeopardy, Janice Hutton of the gay and Lesbian Action Matrix told Newcastle's licensing magistrate this week.

She added that straight men wandering into gay bars could create a volatile mix that could result in violence for the area, a concern backed by the local residents association.

So far, the magistrate has deferred a decision on the venue, which was blocked earlier this year because of its proximity to family venues and museums.

However, developer and licensee Peter Hodgson is keen to push ahead with the plans, citing evidence from lap dancing clubs in Liverpool and Sheffield which shows that a new development would not necessarily lead to increased violence or crime.

 

3rd February

    Bonghead MSPs

Based on an article from Ananova Plans for a topless barber shop has sparked a women's rights groups to vow to organise a picket and supposedly shame male customers.

The shameful Deputy justice minister Hugh Henry also expressed outrage at plans to open the shop, A Bit Off The Top, in his Paisley South constituency.

Local authority Renfrewshire Council said there was nothing it could do to prevent the shop opening in Paisley city centre. It is due to be launched on the site of another controversial store, Bongheads, which sells drugs paraphernalia, cannabis seeds, pornography and sex toys.

Labour MSP Henry said: I'm glad to see the back of Bongheads but I'm outraged to see a sleazy attempt to exploit the drugs culture replaced by an attempt to exploit women.

The SNP's shameful Sandra White, a member of Holyrood's cross-party group on violence against women and children, said she was "disgusted" by the plans and vowed to picket the shop. The MSP for Glasgow raged: I am appalled by this shop, it's degrading to women and is part of this laddish culture treating women as playthings. This objectifying is one reason why violence against women is going up. I and other campaigners will picket the shop every day to shame men who go there.

Edinburgh-based Scottish Women Against Pornography pledged to stand shoulder to shoulder with the MSP and demonstrate outside the shop. Spokeswoman Catherine Harper said: This is not the way forward for the new Scotland and just conveys women as sex objects. (and MSPs as nutters!)

But Renfrewshire Council's licensing board said it could do nothing to stop the shop opening on Paisley's Canal Street.Councillor John McDowell said: Like all local authorities, we don't have the power to license this particular type of commercial venture. I would not welcome such an improbable business proposal. I don't believe it would have any benefit to the trading or image of Paisley.

The company behind the venture, Glasgow-based Urban Group, said that only those aged over 18 would be able to work in the shop.

 

25th January

    Reasons for the Behaviour of Nutters

Based on an article from The Scotsman A Swedish nutter Euro-MP fighting the spread of pornography today called for a study into “the reasons behind the sexual behaviour of men”. Swedish Marianne Eriksson said the results would contribute to establishing an appropriate sexual education programme in all European Union countries.

Ms Erikkson is the author of a draft European Parliament report warning that globalisation has caused an explosion in the “sex industry.” Internet access has put sex into every home and boosted the exploitation of women and the traffick in “sex slaves”, it says.

The report, drawn up by the Parliament’s Committee on Women’s Rights and Equal Opportunities, points out that 70% of the 252 million EU citizens spent on the Internet in 2001 went to porn sites.

Erikkson, speaking in Brussels during a European Parliament public hearing on the impact of the EU sex industry, said:
Only a few years ago, if you wanted pornography and prostitution, you really had to look for it. Today we have to make an effort to avoid it. We come across sex for sale in our e-mails, in our mobile phones and on television on a daily basis. We have to stop this insidious invasion of the sex industry in our daily lives”.

She said the battle was against a very wealthy and powerful industry – one which was quoted on several stock exchanges. Such a well-equipped industry can easily remain one step ahead of law makers, and can profit from existing gaps in the law, for example, in relation to internet and audiovisual policy.

Her report says the sex industry is estimated to turn over more money annually than the total of all military budgets in the world – about 5 trillion.

The draft report’s recommendations, which will be put to the European Parliament later this year, include a call to end to “sexist advertising”, and a ban on the promotion of pornography and prostitution in hotels. The report also demands a ban on sex businesses being quoted on the stock exchange in any EU country.

The recommendations also state: The European Parliament believes that studies should be undertaken to examine the reasons behind the sexual behaviour of men, both at national and EU level, and calls on the member states and the European Commission to proceed on this research. The results of these studies can contribute to establishing an appropriate sexual education programme in all member states.

 

Jan  13th

    Waking Up to Bad Wakefield Law

From Wakefield Today

A rule in Wakefield's new lap dancing law book is 'preposterous' and could lead to seedier goings-on, according to an international coalition.

Humanitas, who have given evidence before the United Nations on human-trafficking for the sex industry, said the regulation keeping dancers at least 12 inches away from customers is absurd because it can't be enforced. Greg Carlin, from the group, said: Wakefield Council will not be able to rely on that in court because no one will be able to distinguish between 11 inches and 12 inches.The council were aware that they couldn't rely on it. They have passed a regulation which in unenforceable.

Carlin also said he feared dancers who had worked in other parts of the country could get a culture shock in Wakefield. He added: If a female goes to Wakefield from another city which has a different rule – say, three yards, as it is in some places – she could be pushed into getting closer and closer to the customer. A female has absolutely the same rights working in a lap dancing club as she would have working in an office, shop or hotel – there's no difference. If a woman was being indecently touched by a drunken man in a shop it would be reported to the police. It should still be reported in a lap dancing club rather than the man just being thrown out on his ear by bouncers. There is also a health and safety issue raised by council regulations. Lap dancing isn't recognised as a real job, so there's no research on it. The council should have taken great care. A dancer could be burnt by a cigarette or cigar or could cut herself on a glass due to being in such close proximity – that's definitely something which could go against health and safety, but still meets council guidelines.

A spokesman for Wakefield Council's licensing section said: The new conditions were produced in line with best practice after comprehensive investigation into those used by other authorities. One of the licence conditions stipulates that CCTV coverage is maintained and with this evidence and that provided by random visits by the council's licensing officers, we are able to closely monitor that these are adhered to. Any major breaches of the conditions would involve a possible revocation of the licence as well as prosecution, working with the help of both the fire and police as appropriate.

 



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