The two clubs (Wildcats and Deep Blue) which appealed against Leeds City Council's decision not to renew their licence have failed to have this decision overturned at Judicial Review.
The decision confirms that the discretion available to local authorities to refuse renewal or initial license consent is very wide, and that restrictive policies can still be justified so long as there is a clear justification given.
The SEV Licensing Blog tellingly asks:
Which takes us back to the crux of the matter: who defines what is in the
interest? Are local authorities consulting adequately to ensure different publics have their views felt? Do we trust Licensing Committees to balance the interests of the
with the rights of those who want to run a legitimate business?
These questions are rhetorical, but need to be asked repeatedly given it is now clear that SEV legislation gives total power to local authorities to ban lap dance clubs in their locality so long as they justify that ban with reference to the public interest.
Meanwhile Wildcats is refusing to admit defeat and has launched a fresh challenge in the courts. Owner Paul Gourlay said:
We are disappointed to hear that we have lost our judicial review of Leeds City Council's decision to remove our license. We challenged the decision based on the council's new policy, that was taken despite the club having no complaints, disturbance issues or any kind of problem in the 12 months from the licence being granted in 2012.
The club's new challenge will focus on the way the council drew up its policy on lapdancing clubs which banned them from
and limited the total number in the city to four. Gourlay said the move had been:
Driven on moral grounds by a select few and this is firmly against the government's legislation on this matter. It is our view that the vast majority of people couldn't care what we do. We are a law abiding business, employing people and paying taxes, I continue to be at a loss to understand the council's behaviour. We will fight on and hope that we can win our case and make the council see sense.
An independent Wigan councillor has been found guilty of the crime against PC morality of watching porn using his council computer.
A cross-party political correctness committee at Wigan Council unanimously found Coun Robert Bleakley had breached the local authority's code of conduct.
The hearing heard that Coun Bleakley regularly accessed pornographic websites on his Wigan Council IT equipment.
The committee removed his access to the internet via the council's provider and ordered him to undergo coaching to address his behaviour.
After hearing the evidence the committee decided he had breached two paragraphs of the council members' Code of Conduct which mean councillors must not indulge in conduct which could bring their office or the authority into disrepute and requires members to use resources
in accordance with the council's reasonable requirements
However, Coun Bleakley issued a strongly-worded riposte following the hearing and said he would refuse to undertake any training and could not be forced into it by Wigan Council. He said:
This is nothing more than a vendetta against me and a continuation of the politically-motivated bullying and harassment of opposition councillors by certain officers and some Labour councillors.
Notable British porn producer Viv Thomas is retiring. AVN writes:
A fixture in the international adult market since the early 1980s, Viv Thomas has created an instantly recognizable style and crafted a massive catalog of high-end erotica. In collaboration with his wife and a support crew of artists and technicians, the VivThomas brand delivers beautiful people in wonderful places and combines passionate, explicit action with intense, pure emotion. Long recognized as a leader and innovator of lesbian erotica, VivThomas.com also offers boy/girl content, further broadening the appeal of the brand.
However VivThomas.com will continue under new ownership as it has been acquired by Metart for an an undisclosed sum.
One of London's flagship strip clubs could face closure after its licence was refused by Camden council.
Spearmint Rhino, the lap-dancing megaclub on Tottenham Court Road, was denied the renewal of its licence because of the large number of private booths for dances, which were prohibited by the authority's Sex Establishments Policy.
The council also expressed concern about the lack of CCTV in parts of the club, including the open areas of the toilets. The council said it was concerned that the club had an
unwillingness to address this and what that implied
Camden's director of Culture and Environment said that he thought, given the location on one of London's busiest shopping streets, the
appropriate number of sexual entertainment venues in the area was zero
but said that, as this was an existing premises, that was not the reason for the refusal.
Camden Council's spokesman told HuffPost UK that venue can continue to operate as normal until a decision letter is issued by the council, and then the venue then has 28 days to appeal.
Jerry Barnett, founder of U.K. adult entertainment advocacy group Sex & Censorship, said he was
with the turnout at the Don't Censor Me! protest held in central London today.
More than 50 people joined the Sex & Censorship's organized protest against the Stop Porn Culture conference, including representatives from the English Collective of Prostitutes, the Sex Worker Open University and Queer Strike campaign groups.
At about 3 p.m., adult industry performers, strippers, sex workers, academics, legal professionals and individuals opposed to sexual censorship mounted a peaceful protest outside Wedge House in Southwark, where the Stop Porn Culture conference was taking place.
Led by Stop Porn Culture co-founder and adult industry opponent Gail Dines and English feminist Julie Bindel, the conference aimed to expand the
antipornography feminist movement
in the U.K., and included speeches from antiporn academic Julia Long and Object campaign officer Sarah Matthewson.
Dines and Bindel appeared outside the venue to debate with the assembled crowd, just after 3 p.m. For about 15 minutes, they gave out free biscuits and Dines spoke with individual attendees, including porn performers Johnny Anglais, aka Benedict Garrett, and Ava Dalush, before returning to the conference.
Sex & Censorship campaigners Jerry Barnett, former porn star Renee Richards and porn performers Edie Lamont and Benedict Garrett were amongst those who addressed the crowd, along with spokespeople from the English Collective of Prostitutes and Queer Strike.
Renee Richards, who had previously rallied fellow performers to support the Sex & Censorship, took Dines to task for her lack of industry knowledge:
Dines and the other so-called feminists at this conference claim all porn has harmful effects. Yet Dines has never stepped on a porn set. I never saw any abuse while working in porn, nor was I abused. What's more, Coca-Cola and Apple exploit their workers in horrific ways but the women inside this conference venue aren't boycotting them.
Jerry Barnett, the co-organiser of the Don't Censor Me protest said.
The anti-sex narrative, the view of a tiny minority, has been dominant for too long in the media, from the Daily Mail to the Guardian. Our message here is that we can make our own choices, we don't want to be rescued, and we never asked to be.
A strip club and lap dancing bar could be destined for Manchester's Northern Quarter if planning permission gets the go-ahead next week. The proposal is for a currently disuded building on the corner of Swan Street and Oldham Street.
Plans for an all-night
, complete with striptease, lap and pole dancing and stage shows, are to be discussed at March 13's Planning and Highways Committee meeting.
However a Manchester City Council report submitted by planning officers ahead of the meeting have recommended the venue is rejected citing the old moralist chestnut, that it will
make the area feel seedier
. Council planning officers suggest a number of unevidenced reasons for quashing the plans, including:
the effect on promoting the location as a high quality area, the potential adverse effect on adjacent residents, the impact on perceptions and the image of the area to future potential investors, impact on perceptions about crime and disorder, the impact on street level activity particularly during the daytime and the proposal would not provide a useful local service.
Greater Manchester Police said the proposal is
, subject to the advice given in their report, which included recommendations to make it safer.
It is also noted that proposed site is to be close to the New Islington development where there are plans for a new school to be built.
Plans to turn a historic Northern Quarter building into a lap dancing club have been thrown out by the town hall. The proposal to open on the corner Swan Street and Oldham Street was rejected. No council explanation was included in the news story.
Moralists and miserablists are opposing a plan to re-open a table-dancing club in New Bond Street, Leicester. Unable to voice their moralism, they have resorted to ludicrous claims that it would bring anti-social behaviour and litter to their street.
Their objections will be heard tomorrow when a panel of councillors decide whether to grant the club, called Baby Blue, a
sexual entertainment venue
licence. The council's current policy is to allow five such clubs to operate in the city centre area, and there are currently three.
Baby Blue was operating as a lap-dancing club until two years ago when a committee of councillors refused to grant it a licence, citing inappropriate location.
New owner Kiran Parmar has now applied to permission to re-open it. He said that the venue would be well run and would not cause any nuisance to neighbours.
Inevitably locals are scraping the barrel for reasons to oppose the application. Owners of Brucciani's cafe have come up with a gem:
The locality is in the heart of the city with some residential flats, a cafe, a restaurant, a dress shop, a barbers and a retailer of religious goods. The religious goods retailer attracts those looking for religious artefacts and gifts to celebrate family festivals and events, a clientele likely to find a venue such as Baby Blue offensive and off-putting.
You'd think a Christian gift shop would welcome the club. they could then sell loads of religious knick knacks to ward off the 'evil spirits'.
A businessman has been granted a licence to open a lap-dancing club, despite neighbours' trivial objections. Kiran Parmar was yesterday granted the licence under a system introduced three years ago to control the number of sex establishments in Leicester.
Committee chairman Councillor John Thomas said after the hearing:
We dealt with the application on its merits. We felt the person s applying for the licence was a fit and proper person.There are 28 conditions which govern the running of these venues and we are satisfied the applicant will observe them.
Exhibitors have learned that Erotica, London's major sexy consumer expo, which was scheduled to take place in November at London's Tobacco Dock venue, had been cancelled.
A letter from the organisers states:
With regret we write to inform you that we have decided to cancel this year's show. We are not happy with the venue or the limited licensing options available to us by Tower Hamlets council and have decided not to proceed any further with plans for this year's show.
Erotica is one of the best-known consumer events in the UK, reportedly chalking up more visitors than the Ideal Home Show at its peak. It was staged annually at London's Olympia from 1997 to 2011 and has traditionally acted as a curtain raiser on the Christmas season for many adult businesses. The 2012 event was cancelled due to the rising cost of tenancy at Olympia and, after a year's sabbatical, the
Erotica was staged at Tobacco Dock in East London in 2013.
A regional press ad for Beavers strip club in Watford featured an image of a woman from her shoulders to her knees from behind. She was wearing lacy underwear and knee-high boots. Text over the image stated
Excuses ... Sorry baby, the car broke down
. Text next to the image stated
BEAVERS STRIP CLUB & BAR, UNDER NEW MANAGEMENT, NEW DANCE PRICES 9pm - 12pm 15 & 20, FREE ENTRY BEFORE 10PM
Two complainants challenged whether the ad:
was likely to cause widespread or serious offence; and
was irresponsible because it would be widely seen throughout the local community.
Beavers Strip Club & Bar (Beavers) did not respond to the ASA's enquiries.
The ASA was disappointed by Beavers lack of response and apparent disregard for the Code, which was a breach of CAP Code rule 1.7 (Unreasonable delay). We reminded Beavers of their obligation to respond promptly to our enquiries and told them to do so in future.
ASA Decision: Complaints upheld
The ASA acknowledged that the ad was for a strip club and bar and, as such, the image was relevant to the service being advertised. We considered that the image of the woman from behind, showing her from the shoulders to the knees, wearing only underwear and knee-high boots was sexually suggestive. We considered the text
Sorry baby, the car broke down
implied that it was customary for users of the service to do so without the approval of their partners, which, given the sexualised nature of the activity, and coupled with the sexually suggestive image, we considered was demeaning to women. Because of that, we concluded that the ad was likely to cause serious or widespread offence.
The ad breached CAP Code rule 4.1 (Harm and Offence).
We noted that the ad was half a page in size and included a sexually suggestive image of a woman, which comprised over a third of the ad. We considered the ad was likely to be widely seen throughout the local community and, because we considered the ad was likely to cause serious or widespread offence, we concluded that the ad was irresponsible.
The ad breached CAP Code rule 1.3 (Responsible advertising). Action
The ad must not appear in its current form. We told Beavers not to use images and text that were likely to cause serious or widespread offence in the medium in which they appear.
Update: You could knock me down with a feather!
22nd February 2013. Thanks to Alan
You really couldn't make this up, could you?
We considered that the image of the woman from behind, showing her from the shoulders to the knees, wearing only underwear and knee-high boots was sexually suggestive.
You could knock me down with a feather! It's a fucking advert for a strip club, for heaven's sake. Of course it's sexually bloody suggestive. Can we now expect the ASA to censor adverts for solemn masses, with shocking revelations about the religious allegiance of the Roman Pontiff, because they could cause serious and widespread offence to extreme protestants?
Plans for a fourth lap dancing club in Birmingham's pubs and clubs area have been greeted by moralist objections.
8 letters have 'poured in' opposing the Broad Street venue, called Paradise, from businesses, the Repertory Theatre and an MP
There are currently three established lap dancing clubs on the road, with the Rocket and Cyclone nightspots vying for trade with Legs 11.
The company behind the latest plan already runs two similar clubs in Manchester and submitted an application for a Sexual Entertainment Venue (SEV) licence in November.
Ladywood Labour MP Shabana Mahmood ludicrously claimed without any evidence whatsoever:
This application for a SEV, if successful would drastically change the nature of the locality, especially as there are currently three other SEV's on Broad Street. A fourth club would be a further indication that Broad Street was becoming the red light district area in Birmingham.
Update: Unbroadened Minds
21st January 2013. Thanks to Alan
What planet do these people live on? Broad Street is a boozing area, full of piss artists mingling with punters from the Rep, Symphony Hall and the NIA.
One more lap dancing joint isn't going to make a scrap of difference.
Moralist councillors rejected an application by Eutony Limited to open the venue, which would have been called Paradise, after a handful of objectors raised unevidenced concerns about Broad Street supposedly becoming a red light district akin to Soho in London.
There are already three strip clubs on Broad Street; Legs 11, Cyclone and the Rocket Club, and there were supposed fears that a fourth
would change the dynamics of the area
., Birmingham's nightlife and bar quarter.
Eutony pledged to take the matter further, saying that moral objections were not a valid reason for refusal.
Councillor Barbara Dring, chairwoman of the Licensing and Public Protection Committee, spewed:
Members were of the opinion that it would be inappropriate to grant the licence having regard to the character of the relevant locality being Broad Street, due to the close vicinity of family orientated activities, entertainment, providing hotels, restaurants and family accommodation.
A spokesman for Eutony said:
The decision to reject our application on the grounds that the character of the area ie Broad Street is not suitable is in our opinion most unjust in view of the fact that three other lap-dancing clubs exist on the street.
It is accepted that lap dancing venues are inherently safe and parliament has enacted legislation to regulate an industry where it recognizes a legitimate demand. Moral objections are not for consideration.
Our proposal was to convert derelict upper floors of a broad street property into a thriving nighttime business employing 15 permanent staff and bring this property back to life and contribute to the councils purse as a business ratepayer. We are accepting legal advice with respect to moving the matter to the high court for a judicial review.
A table dancing club has lost its appeal against Oxford City Council's decision to refuse its licence and must now close.
Al Thompson, the owner of The Lodge launched a court challenge to the council's moralistic decision to ban the club. Last year, he took his fight to the High Court which found in favour of the council. Yesterday, his appeal against that ruling was also dismissed at the Appeal Court.
Dismissing the appeal, Lord Justice Lloyd Jones said:
On a fair reading of the 2012 decision, it is clear that the committee concluded on the evidence relating to the club's operation over the previous year, that the limitation of opening times and absence of external indications as to the nature of the activities taking place had not been sufficient to protect the character of the area.
Eric Pickles is being asked to intervene over Leeds City Council's efforts to shut down a city centre lapdancing club.
The owner of Wildcats on The Headrow has asked Local Government Secretary to investigate why Leeds City Council is spending money on legal action to close it at a time when the authority is having to make major cuts and put up council tax bills.
In a letter to Mr Pickles, Wildcats owner Paul Gourlay says:
The council closed 13 libraries to save ?600,000 a year and now faces legal bills that are likely to exceed that sum for an issue that most taxpayers don't care about. I think this issue deserves an external inquiry on behalf of the taxpayer.
Wildcats was one of three lapdancing clubs to arbitrarily be stripped of its licence last year after the council drew up moralist rules to get table dancing clubs shut down.
Wildcats has been allowed to stay open until both sides put their case at a Judicial Review next month.
Plans to open a lap dancing and pole dancing club in Lowestoft town centre have prompted a a few moralist objections.
An application by Hazel Wilson and Stephen Barrett to create a
sexual entertainment venue
in Station Square will be considered this week by Waveney District Council's licensing committee.
The plan is to convert the former Vibe nightclub into what would be known as the Candy Lounge Gentleman's Club. If approved, the club would cater for a
maximum of 60 patrons
and open from 8pm to 3am on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays and a number of bank holidays including Christmas Eve and New Year's Eve.
The application has resulted in about 30 objections, with all the usual bollox about location and supposed nuisance.
Lowestoft Town Pastors initiative, which is run by local churches, claimed:
In our view it would be totally inappropriate to allow a sex establishment at this location, given the character of the area.
As one of only two river crossings, the main bridge funnels all vehicle and pedestrian traffic between north and south, including many vulnerable users of the night-time economy. The Candy Lounge would mean potential predators (men who have had alcohol and been sexually stimulated) looking for more 'candy' on the street, and bring them unavoidably into contact with vulnerable people, who have no other route available.
Waveney District Council's licensing committee voted in favour to allow the Candy Lounge Gentleman's Club to be set up in Station Square on the site of the former Vibe nightclub by the Bascule bridge
The meeting heard the club's windows would be blanked out and there would be no signs promoting it on display when it was not open. And it was said by the club's backers that the venue would draw more money into Lowestoft's economy.
The terms of the Candy Lounge Gentleman's Club license will last a year and it will only be open between 9pm and 3am on Wednesdays, Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays and St George's Day and St Patrick's Day.
A nightclub in Cheltenham's Bath Road will be turned into a permanent table dancing venue if business owners get their way.
The current Voodoo club will be converted into Diamond Gentlemen's Club if Cheltenham Borough Council decides to grant the premises a sexual entertainment venue licence.
The licence, which is due to be considered next month, would see the club open from 8pm until 4am, seven days a week, and from 11am until 4am on Cheltenham race days.
The application has inevitably sparked 'outrage' from a few miserable residents. Mike Huysinga preached:
This is a residential area which backs on to a family park. I am not trying to preach to anyone and it is not a moral issue for me, it is about the people that it will attract. We can do better as a town. Maybe I am being a Nimby but I don't want this where I live. I don't want my children growing up a stone's throw from a lapdancing club.
The borough council had not received any objections so far.
However the same newspaper also carried a well written opinion piece pointing out unreal nutter arguments turn out to be:
A lap dancing club has been given the green light to open in Cheltenham. Bath Road Property Limited applied to the borough council for permission to transform Voodoo night club in Bath Road into a gentlemen's club which will be called Diamond. The club will be allowed to open between 10pm and 4am seven days a week, 52 weeks a year.
Close to 200 residents wrote to the authority to express their moral disgust at the plan. But councillors sitting on the committee were reminded they were not allowed to judge the application on moral grounds.
Much of the criticism of the plan has centred on the unevidenced fear that
patrons of the club could wreak havoc when they leave the premises.
However, Andrew Woods, the solicitor for the applicant, described the location of the lapdancing club as
and said there is
not a single piece of evidence
to support [such] claims':
We do not accept at all that any of the suggestions regarding public nuisance are supported by any evidence whatsoever. There is no evidence that venues of this type lead to any level of nuisance or disorder at all. Those suggestions are unsubstantiated. The suggestions about sexually frustrated customers are completely without foundation.
Meanwhile, Captain Steve Smith, commanding officer of the Bath Road branch of the Salvation Army, opposed the plan and he was furious at the decision:
Five councillors have just lost their seats and it is a disgrace. The fact that moral objections cannot be taken into account is ridiculous.
York's table dancing club can stay open after councillors renewed its licence.
Moralists from the York Feminist Network had urged City of York Council to turn down the licence renewal by Upstairs, situated above the Mansion nightclub in Micklegate.
The group claimed that the club was somehow too close to several organisations working with vulnerable groups, such as a domestic abuse service, women's counselling service and an organisation supporting survivors of rape and sexual abuse. It also made unsubstantiated claims that the club contributed to making Micklegate feel a no-go area for women, as it made them feel threatened or uncomfortable.
The council's licensing committee approved the application and licensing manager Lesley Cooke said members were satisfied that none of the grounds for refusal were established and therefore the licence could be renewed.
Owner Andrew Whitney said the feminist group's claims about the organisations working with vulnerable women had been dismissed because their offices were all closed long before the club opened its doors at 9pm.
Miserable MP Diana Johnson is bidding to further restrict lap dancing clubs.
The Labour MP will seek to win a change in the law when her Sex Establishments (Regulation) Bill is heard in the House of Commons on Monday.
Johnson, who is Labour's shadow crime and security minister, is proposing an amendment to the current law described in parliamentary proceedings as:
That leave be given to bring in a Bill to make provision for the statutory regulation of sex establishments; to amend the Local Government (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1982; to require local authorities to adhere to the existing voluntary licensing framework for sex establishments; and for connected purposes.
Possibly she is asking for unlicensed venues staging occasional table dancing events to be required to follow the same rules as licensed venues.
Diana Johnson has presented a bill that ends the option for councils opt out of additional powers to control lap dancing venues. If the council were to opt out of these controls then lap dancing venues would be licensed as per pubs and clubs.
Diana Johnson explained in the debate:
My aim is for all areas to make better use of the powers. I want to spread good practice and stop the postcode lottery. This is about including local communities at an early stage of the licensing process and giving locals a voice about whether or not they want these types of establishments on their high street. That is a question that should be asked of all communities and that everyone should feel able to contribute to.
The amendment to the law would assist local licensing committees. I want to contrast licensing authorities that give communities a strong voice over these establishments and have a clear policy with licensing decisions that are taken on an individual basis, which is still a proper and legal way of doing things. Let us take, for example, a local authority that has chosen to adopt the sexual entertainment venue powers, but has not issued a specific licensing statement. When that local authority then receives an application, it considers it on an individual basis. If communities want to assert themselves, individuals have to make specific objections. They have to show how that club will impact on their lives, and they need to relate it to vague licensing statements.
It is often difficult for a community collectively to argue about what such a venue means for their area or community. Indeed, considering such general concerns may render the authorities' decision open to legal challenge, which can be expensive and off-putting. Adopting a clear licensing statement and a cap on the number of such venues negates the risk of a court challenge and both simplifies the process and ensures that the wider community is able to be clear and supported in what it wants its town or city to look like.
I am not seeking to impose some draconian new ban from Whitehall on any activity that is freely and legally participated in, or to restrict legitimate entertainment businesses. I merely want local people and councillors to have more power to resist the spread of sleaze in their neighbourhoods and for current best practice in local government to become universal.
Her suggestion was agreed and Diana Johnson accordingly presented the Bill.
Bill read the First time; to be read a Second time on Friday 28 February.
A district judge has backed the Camden Council's handling of Spearmint Rhino's bid for extended hours and more relaxed conditions at its branch in Tottenham Court Road.
The company launched an appeal at Highbury Corner Magistrates' Court, complaining that it had been harshly treated when a list of requested amendments to its licence was voted down.
The club raised concerns that husband and wife Labour councillors Thomas Gardiner and Maryam Eslamdoust had total control of the votes with 2 votes out of 4 plus the casting vote.
The club had wanted to lift a list of rules including a ban on dancers drinking at work, a demand to keep the front doors closed and a ban on branded vehicles outside the venue. The application failed when panel chairman Cllr Gardiner used his casting vote on a dead-locked committee to refuse the changes. The vote had been square at 2-2, with the two members voting against being Cllr Gardiner and Cllr Eslamdoust.
When the case came to court just before Christmas, however, district judge Robin McPhee said no rules had been broken. He said:
There is of course nothing inherently wrong in a husband and wife, or any civil partners, both being elected councillors to the same council. Such a situation is a frequent occurrence. With such a small committee it might have been better to avoid the situation which arose because it has given cause and a basis for comment. The efficacy of an evenly numbered committee is questionable but is certainly permissible.