Nutters are launching a mean minded campaign to get licensing laws changed to give local councils more option to ban lap dancing.
Object are launching a campaign on Tuesday April 22nd, 12-1pm at the House of Commons, London followed at 1-3.30pm by protest in Parliament Square.
The campaign calls for lap dancing clubs to be recognised as part of the commercial sex industry and licensed as Sex Encounter Establishments, rather than in the same way as pubs, cafes or karaoke nights as they currently are.
A trade association representing lap dancing clubs has been launched to distance the industry from its sleazy image of drugs and prostitution.
The Lap Dancing Association (LDA) will represent lap, table and pole dancing club operators and provide the sector with a unified voice.
Members of the association include chains such as For Your Eyes Only and Spearmint Rhino as well as independent outlets across the UK.
Simon Warr, president of Spearmint Rhino and chairman of the LDA, said: The establishment of a national trade body is a sign that the sector has come of age. Our industry is made up of many hundreds of independent operators and to date they have
lacked a unified voice and forum for sharing best practice. The LDA now provides that.
The LDA also wants to develop minimum standards of best commercial practice through the promotion of a Code of Practice.
Warr added: Operating in accordance with the code will demonstrate a high level of professionalism and show that clubs recognise their responsibility towards their staff, dancers, customers and local community. We want to distance our industry from
the sleazy image of drugs and prostitution
Nutters say an increasing number of MPs are joining their fight to give local authorities greater power over lap-dancing clubs.
Sandrine Leveque, a spokeswoman for the nutters of Object, said efforts were under way to build support for a 10-Minute Rule Bill to be introduced by the Durham MP Roberta Blackman-Woods at the end of May. She said the campaign had the backing of about
35 MPs, a third of the number they are hoping to attract: We have received some really good feedback from local authorities since we drew attention to the loophole. This is a cross-party issue and one which affects men and women of all walks of life.
We are hoping to gain support from at least 100 MPs.
An early day motion by Lynda Waltho, MP for Stourbridge, which supports empowering councils to license venues as sex encounter establishments, has gathered 26 signatures from predominantly Labour and Liberal Democrat MPs over the past four days.
Since the first mainstream club, For Your Eyes Only, opened 13 years ago, the number of clubs countrywide has risen to 300, more than doubling in the past four years. Five local authorities which have attempted to block new establishments have
been defeated on appeal.
The campaigners want to categorise the clubs as sex encounter establishments, giving local authorities the same power over them as they do with sex shops and cinemas. They are calling for a change in the law to give councils the right to reject
applications for pole-dancing venues.
The Lap Dancing Association (LDA) retorted this week that, while it was concerned about the practices of irresponsible operations and potential links with prostitution, classifying clubs as sex encounter establishments would only drive such operators
underground. It urged the campaign group to work with it to improve standards, claiming that much of the literature on the subject was inaccurate and sensationalist.
A group representing Britain's lap-dancing industry will officially launch today with an unexpected demand for the government: it wants stricter licensing rules.
The Lap Dancing Association (LDA), which includes the UK's largest lap-dancing chains, wants local authorities, which license the venues, to be given powers to ensure clubs abide by a code of conduct which addresses issues of minimum standards of
public decency and morality which are not required by existing laws. Some members of the LDA will also acknowledge concerns about evidence of prostitution at some clubs.
The creation of the LDA will put ministers in the awkward position of having to defend liberal licensing laws brought in under their 2003 Licensing Act. On licensing, the industry will ask ministers to amend rules so that "adult entertainment"
establishments are considered separately from other premises. Under existing rules, lap-dancing venues have the same "one size fits all" licence used by cafes and theatres.
The LDA hopes its "compromise" proposals will see off calls from some MPs for wholesale change in the licensing laws to recategorise lap-dancing venues as "sexual encounter" establishments.
New controls on lap-dancing clubs are planned by the Government following the nutter outcry over their rapid proliferation across the country.
50 Labour MPs were demanding that ministers closed a planning rule that forced councils to treat the clubs in the same way as cafes. There are now 300 pole-dancing venues in England and they are opening at a rate of almost one a week.
Gerry Sutcliffe, the Culture minister, signalled a clamp-down on the clubs as he admitted that the Government was worried by their rapid increase.
Ministers are preparing to amend licensing legislation so that lap-dancing clubs are classed as "sex encounter establishments" alongside sex cinemas and peep shows. Sutcliffe wrote to all England councils last night seeking their views on the
issue. Whitehall sources made clear the move was the first step to new planning rules being imposed on the clubs.
Roberta Blackman-Woods, the Labour MP for Durham won cross-party support in the Commons yesterday for the first reading of a Bill designed to bring in the new laws. But it is unlikely to become law due to a lack of parliamentary time.
Claims that lap-dancing clubs are opening because of a loophole in the law are wrong, a leading licensing lawyer says.
Women's no-rights for men groups have been calling on the Government to classify lap-dancing clubs as sex encounter establishments.
Clubs are currently treated in the same way as a bar or restaurant and only need a premises licence to operate.
Campaigners said this is due to a 'loophole' in the Licensing Act 2003, and that the number of clubs has doubled since 2004.
But Richard Arnot, head of licensing and gaming at law firm Mincoffs, in Jesmond, Newcastle, disputes the existence of such a loophole. He said: I read with increasing frequency campaigners complaining the lap-dancing venues take advantage of a
loophole in the law and impose themselves on communities who simply do not want them. The reality, however, is that no such loophole exists in the Licensing Act 2003.
Adult entertainment was exhaustively debated in Parliament before the Act became law, and it was sensibly concluded that they had no business in engaging in censorship.
What one individual finds immoral is not necessarily what would concern another. Adults are free to make their own choices and if they consider lap-dancing an acceptable form of entertainment, they should be perfectly entitled to pay to enter a
well-run venue. However, if adult entertainment can be proved to be detrimental to law and order, safety, nuisance or the obligation to protect children from harm then, quite rightly, applications should be refused. This is the crux of the matter.
The simple truth is that, despite lap-dancing venues operating for over ten years in this country, there is very little evidence to suggest that they are in any way detrimental.
In a nation where freedom of speech is so cherished, should it not also be the case that we should protect the freedom to enjoy whatever form of entertainment, so long as it is legal, that we choose.
Interestingly, the arguments advanced in opposition to lap-dancing venues are almost identical to those used by objectors to a number of gay bars that we represent. We wonder how many campaigners would publicly attach themselves to those who find
those sorts of venues immoral.
But we had better watch out because as soon as morality becomes relevant, our secular society could become very different.
TV Review: Dispatches: The Hidden World Of Lap Dancing , Channel 4, Monday 6 October, 9pm
As you would expect in a documentary like this, there was a fair amount of flesh on show. All secretly filmed flesh, but flesh nonetheless. The show used a couple of undercover reporters - a guy called Peter and a wannabe lady dancer - to show just what
happens when someone goes into a lap dancing club. Guess what? What happens when you go into a lap dancing club is people try and get you to spend money and then take their clothes off if you pay them.
The questions that this episode of Dispatches was keen to answer were: Are the rules that govern these clubs being flouted? Does any transgression of these rules constitute a sexual service? And why does lap dancing get the same licensing status as a
café or a karaoke bar?
Any sane people knows the answers.
Undercover footage revealed that the all-important three-feet rule was constantly being flouted, and lady-parts were shoved relentlessly into our brave undercover reporter's poor naive face.
You walk into a club, and five minutes later two girls who you hardly know are completely naked in front of you. It's quite shocking.
Is it Peter? Is it REALLY shocking? No offence, but what were you expecting when you went into a place like this? A cup of tea and a Digestive? Get real son. This type of journalism is so lazy and makes me angry. The whole programme was just a shock
tactic to try and rile Middle England into shrieking at their television sets.
There was also a laughable bit when Peter was chatting to two dancers in a Blackpool club. They had offered him sex for £300. That's obviously prostitution and against the laws.
Jeez. It was like watching the televisual of equivalent of the Daily Mail.
Heaven gentlemen's club in Stourbridge was the subject of Channel 4's Dispatches programme - which saw an undercover journalist secretly filming inside the venue.
And following theprogramme on (October 6) which showed a dancer getting up close and personal with the secret reporter, Dudley Council says it now plans to investigate allegations it breached its licensing conditions.
Club owner Alastair Rose admitted the girl in question had breached the code of conduct agreed between Dudley Council and the club - and said she had been sacked some time ago. He said: I take this very seriously - it was a one off, that's not the
normal behaviour of a dancer. It's been dealt with and I'm working closely with the licensing officer to make sure ladies stick to the code of conduct and hopefully this won't happen again.
A spokesman for Dudley Council confirmed the nightspot, which opens Wednesday to Saturday, was being investigated following the programme and added: If there is a breach, the licensing committee has a number of powers, including revocation of licence.
Police find it difficult to close down lap dancing clubs because their customers are usually well-behaved, a vice squad chief has told MPs.
Chief Inspector Adrian Studd, of the Metropolitan Police, said local residents often wanted officers to take action on "moral" grounds.
But the police were restricted to crime and disorder laws.
He told the Commons culture committee such clubs were usually well-run and had a high staff ratio to customers.
Often people look for a moral decision, which is sometimes very difficult for police and local authorities to make, said Chief Inspector Studd, of the Met's clubs and vice unit.
He added: It is true to say there is no evidence they cause any crime and disorder, or very rarely, because they tend to be fairly well-run, they tend to have a fairly high staff ratio to customers, the people who tend to go there tend to be a bit
older, so they don't tend to drink so excessively and cause... problems outside.
The government has said it is considering a change in the law so that the clubs are categorised as "sex encounter" establishments - the same as sex shops. This would mean stricter rules about what is allowed to take place inside but Chief
Inspector Studd suggested that even this might not make it any easier for police to take action.
In the few local authority areas where lap dancing clubs were regulated in this way, the rules, on how close customers can come to the dancers, for example, had proved difficult to enforce.
With the best will in the world, when you get into the fine detail of it, as we have tried to do, on a couple of occasions, it's incredibly difficult to try and do that, added Chief Inspector Studd.
Owners of lap dancing clubs across Britain have joined forces to oppose attempts to make it more difficult for them to obtain licences.
Next week lap dancers are to hand in a petition to Prime Minister Gordon Brown urging him not to reclassify them as sex establishments.
They stress that while lap dancing is a sexy industry, sex is not for sale.
The Government look set to change the law to make it easier for local councils to refuse licences for clubs where customers pay to watch semi-naked women dancing.
But Kate Nicholls, secretary of the Lap Dancing Association (LDA) yesterday said: Britain's lap dancing clubs have been the subject of political and media debate in recent months.
The LDA shares concerns about unregulated or inadequately controlled establishments offering lap dancing. The LDA proposes a mandatory code of operating standards for the industry.
The LDA offers its own code of practice as a blueprint for this. A code of practice which would ensure any licensed premises offering adult entertainment must adhere to principles of professionalism, safety and transparency, would go some lengths to
addressing residual issues within the industry.
The LDA insist that local authorities do have the power to reject a licensing application for a lap-dancing club, and quote an example in her own Durham constituency: By way of example, in a recent case in Durham, a council ignored objections from
local residents and the Magistrates Court reversed their decision, showing how effective and influential local complaints can be. The reality is that planning and licensing restrictions give local authorities and local communities full powers of
consultation, complaint and control.
Lap dancers have taken part in a protest against government plans to reclassify them as sex workers.
Nutter campaigners against the clubs want them to be relabelled as sex encounter establishments and say councils should be given more control to ban them and to charge higher licence fees.
But the Lap Dancing Association, which represents a third of the industry's clubs, claims this would stigmatise performers. Its members say sexual activity does not take place in regulated clubs and their businesses were already controlled under the
Licensing Act 2003.
They said they are subject to numerous policies which regulated their activity and the reclassification was unnecessary.
On Tuesday, Lap dancers Lynsey Catt, Sian Wilshaw, Katherine Martinez, and Sharon Warneford presented a petition with nearly 3,000 signatures to Number 10 Downing Street, on behalf of the association.
Elaine Reed, a spokeswoman for the Spearmint Rhino Gentlemen's Clubs chain, said: The workers within our industry are absolutely horrified that the Government are trying to rebrand us as part of the sex industry. The feeling is that if these
changes are made the whole face of the industry will change, and not for the better
A Home Office spokesman said it was looking into the matter and intended to introduce changes to the the law at some point in the future.
Members of the Lap Dancing Association are to visit the Palace of Westminster later this month as part of their campaign against proposals to classify them as sex workers.
I don't suppose many select committees discuss lap dancing, not as part of official business anyway, says Philip Davies, the Tory MP for Shipley: I have no idea whether there will be an official visit to one of these clubs, but it is always a
good idea to see these things first-hand. John Whittingdale, who chairs the committee, can't believe what has landed in his lap: I have the best job in parliament,
The association has already submitted a report, which defends women's right to perform striptease.
It ends with the cheeky postscript: Our criticisers have obviously never visited a lap dancing club. The reality is that, if they had, they would realise that although the girls take their tops off, it is definitely they who wear the trousers.
Burlesque shows and theatre performances involving nudity could become the victims of proposed legislation intended to relicense lap dancing clubs, say opponents.
Trade body the Lap Dancing Association says the new licence needs a stricter legal definition of which forms of nude entertainment it would apply to: If not, the licence could inadvertently capture everything from traditional burlesque - made popular
by performers such as Dita Von Teese - to naked actors on stage in the theatre, like Daniel Radcliffe in Equus .
LDA secretary Kate Nicholls told The Stage that representatives are due to meet with Home Office officials to discuss alternative proposals and will also present evidence to the Select Committee on Culture, Media and Sport this month.
The reforms suggested by MP Blackman-Woods have won strong support from feminist groups and also the powerful Local Government Association, which represents a total of 446 councils in England and Wales.
But Equity is supporting lap dancers in their concern to ensure that the new licence continues to recognise them as performers.
Union spokesman Martin Brown said: If [relicensing] establishments would reclassify the people who work in them, then we are opposed. We are opposed to exotic dancers being classified as sex workers. Our members have made it very clear to us that they
are, first and foremost, dancers and they absolutely object to attempts to classify them as sex workers.
Lap dancing is not sexually stimulating, the chairman of the Lap Dancing Association told a parliamentary committee.
Simon Warr made the claim, which was greeted with justifiable scepticism by MPs, while he was giving evidence to the Commons culture committee as part of an inquiry into the operation of the Licensing Act.
The government is under pressure to change the act so that lap dancing clubs have to be licensed as sex encounter establishments.
At the moment, they are licensed in the same way as pubs and clubs, which has led to complaints from councils who believe that they do not have the power to stop clubs being opened in their areas.
In their evidence to committee, Warr and colleagues from the Lap Dancing Association claimed that their clubs should not be classified as sex encounter establishments because they were providing hospitality, not sexual services. But Warr astonished the
committed when he argued that sexual stimulation was not part of the clubs' attraction.
One of the biggest problems we face is that not enough people understand the business blueprint of our clubs, he said: Actually, our premises are not sexually stimulating. It would be contrary to our business plan if they were.
At this point, Philip Davies, the Tory MP for Shipley who was questioning Warr, said he found that hard to believe.
Warr replied: Then you need to go to a club, because the purpose of a club is to provide entertainment. It's to provide alcohol, it's a place of leisure. All right, the entertainment may be in the form of nude or semi-nude performers, but it's not
Peter Stringfellow, the strip club owner, who was giving evidence alongside Warr and his colleagues, intervened to try to explain what he thought Warr had meant by his comments.
Of course it's sexually stimulating. So is a disco. So is a little girl flashing away with her knickers showing. Of course it's sexually stimulating. So is David Beckham laid out in his Calvin Klein [underwear]. So are the Chippendales. Of course it
does have some form of sex.
But what my colleague was trying to explain was that it's not sex, 100%. It's not 'I'm going to go and get divorced.' It does not go on like that. Our environment lasts three minutes. Their clothes are on and off before you can blink. It's a lot more to
do with personality. It's a lot more to do with the ambience of the club.
Earlier in the session, Davies asked the Lap Dancing Association to respond to allegations that at some clubs dancers do offer sexual services, contrary to the rules. Chris Knight, the vice chairman of the association, replied: We are not saying there
are not bad clubs. There are bad drivers. But you do not change the way that you licence drivers.
Kate Nicholls, the secretary of the Lap Dancing Association, said that councils already had enough power to stop clubs opening under the existing legislation, which allows them to consider issues such as public safety, public order, public nuisance and
the protection of children: If you cannot form an objection to an outlet [under one of these criteria], then you are just accepting that you have got a fundamental objection to the premises.
But the committee also heard from two representatives of Object, a human rights organisation campaigning against the sex object culture. Object wants lap dancing clubs to be classified as sex encounter establishments.
Sandrine Leveque, Object's advocacy officer, said: Lap dancing clubs promote gender stereotypes and their expansion is therefore of concern to women's organisations up and down the country.
Banks join benefit cheats, lap-dancing clubs and drinkers at the top of a list of targets for legislative action to be unveiled
Gordon Brown has made unfairness to men the theme of the second Queen's Speech of his premiership.
Companies will be free to discriminate in favour of women and black job candidates under a proposed Inequality Bill. The move allows employers to give preferential treatment as long as applicants are equally qualified. It is designed to boost the
proportion of female and ethnic staff, as well as thrusting more of them into senior posts.
Measures to toughen laws against benefit fraud, ban alcohol promotions and reclassify lap-dancing clubs as sex encounter establishments were trailed yesterday.
Plans by Jack Straw, the Justice Secretary, for a new Bill of Rights have been shelved.
The Prime Minister said in a document previewing the Queen's Speech yesterday. So as Government takes action, we expect people to play their part in return, with clear consequences for those who do not.
The speech will also announce a Crime Bill changing prostitution and drink laws. There will be proposals to criminalise men who pay for sex with trafficked women. The home secretary, Jacqui Smith, has made clear the bill would include a strict
liability offence of paying for sex with a trafficked or pimped woman which means that ignorance will be no defence for those accused. The Conservatives have already indicated they are likely to oppose this, making tackling prostitution one of the
more unlikely flashpoints in politics over the coming months. [Saying that I didn't notice the Paying for sex provision in any of the Home Office press releases accompanying the Queen's Speech.]
Pbr on the Melon Farmer's forum notes the absence of a Bill to prohibit non-photographic visual depictions of child sexual abuse ... perhaps the first bit of good news in government policy for quite a while now.
Off with their bollocks!...
Any man found enjoying a sex life will be
liable to the 'appropriate' summary penalty
Lap dancing clubs may be closed if they are located too near supposedly inappropriate sites such as schools, under transitional powers contained in the policing and crime bill published yesterday.
On lap dancing, the introduction of transitional powers to threaten existing lap dancing clubs goes further than originally billed. The man hating home secretary, Jacqui Smith, has already indicated that she expects the legislation to curb the
growth in the number of lap dancing clubs, which has doubled to 300 over the last four years.
But Coaker indicated that the transitional powers contained in the bill would give local authorities the power to refuse to renew the licences of existing clubs if there are local objections that they are sited inappropriately.
Despite the recent protests of the lap dancing industry that what goes on in their clubs is not sexually stimulating , the legislation proposes to categorise lap dancing clubs as sex encounter establishments and remove them from the
existing 2003 entertainment licensing regime, which classed them along with bars and pubs. A sex encounter venue is defined as one in which relevant entertainment is provided before a live audience for the financial gain of the organiser. An audience can
consist of only one person.
The effect will be to allow local authorities to take far more account of the views of nutters in granting new licences and to ban the opening of further clubs by declaring that a particular town or city centre has reached saturation point .
Pubs and clubs hosting monthly lap dancing evenings will be exempt from new legislation aimed at tackling
the spread of strip clubs, it has emerged.
Councillor Gill Mitchell, prudish leader of the Labour group on Brighton and Hove City Council, has claimed that venues could exploit the loophole to compensate for a drop in alcohol sales during the economic downturn.
While she welcomed measures under the Policing and Crime Bill to reclassify lap dancing clubs as sex encounter venues, giving councillors more freedom to turn down licence applications, she said there were still problems with the plans. She
pointed out that the Bill, which has passed its second reading in Parliament, would exempt premises that hosted lap and pole dance nights once a month or less frequently.
Three fully naked lap dancing clubs now operate in Brighton - The Pussycat Club in Grand Parade, Grace of Brighton in North Street, and Spearmint Rhino Rouge in East Street.
Mitchell has asked the MPs to lobby the Home Secretary to ensure that this loophole for clubs holding occasional nights was closed and that the reforms were made mandatory for all local councils: Also, the legislation should be mandatory to
avoid the creation of a postcode lottery where some communities would have more control over lap dancing clubs in their areas than others where councils do not take up the new powers.
A Home Office spokesman defended the Bill and said: The new powers are not mandatory for local authorities as not all areas have a problem with lap dancing establishments, but will be available where local authorise believe they are necessary.
Venues holding one-off or infrequent nude entertainment were being exempted to prevent the provisions from having a disproportionate impact on nightlife, he added.
In my spare time I run a small Burlesque event in a small music venue. Since the introduction of the Adult Entertainment License the Burlesque and cabaret scene has been put under threat of being forced into Lap Dancing Bars or to close down. The AEL was
aimed to curtail the Lap Dancing scene, but the Lap Dancing scene is far more likely to raise the £8K fee whilst cabaret and burlesque nights rarely make money - for my next show I would need to sell out the entire show in advance to make a profit
of £100 so £8K is a joke.
A lot of the burlesque scene are not comfortable going into Lap Dancing bars - they are not saying Lap Dancing Bars should be closed down, they just want to leave the Lap Dancing Bars to those who want to enjoy them, but with these new rules we could
lose a wide portion of our audience. I liken this to someone who wants to watch Evil Dead 2 also having to sit through Schindlers List, one is light hearted black comedy horror whilst the other is a deeply upsetting slice of reality, people should have
the choice of what they want to do, not be forced to do something else also.
Equity are fighting the government - so far they've lost - Labour have forced through another inept law that has far ranging implications, and their main target of the legislation is far better suited to survive the law than the other shows that have
been swept into it.
Lap Dancing: Same old thing from Guardian media group
Thanks to Alan
The usual victim feminist line, reheating the same arguments and the same report from the Lilith Project as Rachel Cooke in the Sunday stablemate, the Observer, less than a fortnight ago. A bit of originality is perhaps too much to ask for.
There has been much talk amongst prohibitionists about how the capability for councils to ban lap dancing is not quite 100%. One is that
occasional strip shows (monthly or less) were to have been allowed and the other that it is up to councils whether they want to impose the licensing scheme or not.
Of course mean minded NuLabour don't like to think that people may even occasionally enjoy adult entertainment, so the predictable 'loophole' closing amendments are being considered.
A circular has now gone round to Labour MPs from the Labour group on the Local Government Association urging them to support an amendment to the lap dancing repression bill by the MP for Stourbridge, Lynda Waltho, to apply the new powers to all local
authorities, not just those who choose to do so.
Major music venues in central London face having their licences revoked if they continue staging burlesque events.
Camden council has warned that any establishment putting on burlesque will be treated as a strip club and have to pass repressive licensing procedures.
The move jeopardises the future of shows at some of the biggest venues in the capital, such as the Roundhouse, KoKo and the Proud Gallery.
Burlesque - which features partial nudity and striptease - is considered art by its advocates and distinct from the activities of lap-dancing clubs.
Performers such as Dita Von Teese have led a resurgence in burlesque which has attracted a celebrity following including the likes of George Clooney and Brad Pitt.
But Camden has deemed burlesque too risqué for normal pubs and clubs and has told venues they must reapply for adult entertainment licences as officials insist it should be classed as adult entertainment of a sexual nature.
The council said: Camden's licensing policy states that any premises in the borough that wishes to offer entertainment involving nudity, striptease or other entertainment of an adult nature will need approval from the licensing authority - burlesque
falls within this criteria.
30th April 2009, thanks to Alan
You cite a spokespillock from Camden saying: burlesque falls within this criteria
Shouldn't a sanctimonious twat who wants to use posh foreign words at least master grammar? THIS CRITERIA????? Singular: criterion; plural: criteria. This criterion or these criteria ! Gottit?
American burlesque artist Dita Von Teese has urged her fellow performers to defy a new law banning nightclubs from having stripper shows without a licence, saying it is what makes risqué dance routines exciting.
The artist is adamant that strippers should always strive to bend the rules, as it is a tradition in the saucy trade.
It’s not unusual for burlesque to be regulated because it always has been, and the stars of burlesque from the past had to deal with it, Contactmusic quoted her as saying.
The challenges of getting around the laws and the risque element were always a part of what made burlesque exciting. Perhaps these clubs will install the historic `red light, green light` that they had in burlesque clubs to tell the performers whether
the cops were in the house or not, she added.
Save Burlesque Campaign protest
30th July 2009
Up to 1,000 scantily clad campaigners are set to march on Camden Town Hall in protest at a nanny state crackdown on burlesque performers.
More than 500 people have already signed up for a massive Save Burlesque Campaign protest on July 30 - with hundreds more expected to register on the campaign website in the next two weeks.
It follows a controversial new policy from Camden Council which forces any venue staging a burlesque night to apply for a licence for adult entertainment as lap-dancing venues have to do.
But burlesque performers have defended the artform - saying it is a humorous and titillating theatrical satire dating back more than 400 years.
Campaign organiser Ruby Rose founder of the Burlesque Women's Institute, said: Camden say they are not banning it, but they are trying to brand it as adult entertainment, the same as sex shows or porn cinemas. That in itself will effectively ban
burlesque. Where are we going to find £1,000 for a licence?
It's a double-edged sword. You'll have regular bars and clubs having licences for adult entertainment in places where it would never have gone before and it will push acts into places where they wouldn't feel safe.
Camden aren't aware of what burlesque is - there's no touching, it's not £10 notes being stuffed in bras and panties. They just thought it was stripping. They say they're protecting small children but no venues that have burlesque would have
children in at 10 o'clock at night. Details of the meeting point for the peaceful protest are being kept top secret as Miss Rose continues last-minute talks with Camden Council.
On Sunday, 200 people flocked to trendy venue Proud Galleries, in Chalk Farm Road, Camden Town, for a campaign fundraiser featuring reverse stripteases to get round the crackdown.
Owner Alex Proud, who was forced to cancel regular burlesque nights at the venue, said: I honestly think what they do is art. We live in a nanny state. Page 3 is OK, adverts for porn on TV are fine, supermarkets selling beer for 20p is fine. But
consenting adults watching a woman in underwear? Call the cops - Camden Council to our moral rescue! We are in a recession, is this really what the council thinks matters?
Performers have been protesting against a north London council's decision to class burlesque dancing as part of the adult entertainment industry.
Venues in Camden must now apply for an updated licence which is normally required by lap-dancing clubs.
This has led to burlesque performances being cancelled due to increased costs.
Camden Council said it was trying to improve regulations, but demonstrators said its actions were putting the future of burlesque in London at risk.
Dancers, dressed in full burlesque costume, marched from Covent Garden to Camden Town Hall.
Sam Roddick, daughter of the late Body Shop founder Anita Roddick, said: We cannot have laws that are based on ignorance. Burlesque is not part of the adult entertainment industry. Banning burlesque is like banning comedy. It's a genre which
contains a wide spectrum of performances which should be judged individually.
Lola Labelle, 24, a dancer with the Wam Bam Girls, said the move was a way of raising revenue for the council. She expressed concern that the change would change the perception of burlesque.
Ruby Rose, founding member of the Burlesque Women's Institute, said that if other boroughs followed suit, it could cause the end of burlesque in the city: We're going to inform the council so they can make educated decisions, because a lot of people
are desperately upset about this.
A 100-strong group - led by the founder of lingerie boutique Coco de Mer Sam Roddick, Ruby Rose of the Burlesque Women's Institute (BWI), and Lola LaBelle who dances with the Wam Bam Girls - marched through the streets of Camden holding placards reading
Don't be Prude, It's Not Rude to protest against Camden Council's decision to treat burlesque as lap dancing.
Following a meeting with protestors, the council published a statement announcing a U-turn. It said: Burlesque performance in its widest form can include various arts forms and this alone would not require a licence. The council's concern is with any
performance which may involve nudity.
The council announced a commitment to work with the burlesque community to seek a clearer understanding of what constitutes adult entertainment, and has scheduled a meeting with the BWI in September.
A Coco de Mer spokesperson described the news as amazing . She explained that the key breakthrough was the removal of the word stripping from the council's licensing conditions.
She said: The council have acknowledged that although burlesque performers do remove clothes, this very rarely ends in nudity - by legal definition displaying genitalia or nipples. The council have agreed that removing clothes, often for performers
from one costume to another, does not constitute 'adult entertainment' and so no longer needs a license.
LaBelle said: This was not about a few performers losing a couple of gigs here and there, it is about becoming a part of a society which is ok with its government censoring things without even knowing what they are. Although it was Camden, it could
have spread out throughout the country.
The point was reiterated by Rose, who believes that if adopted by other local authorities, the licensing requirement had to potential to wipe out burlesque. She said the BWI would now to working to ensure that the artform was not brought under
New laws aim to reclassify the saucy fun palaces as sexual encounter establishments. And they could lead to thousands of exotic dancers nationwide being thrown on the dole.
But both Tory and Labour peers have launched a last-ditch attempt to trip up the plans.
Tory Viscount Bridgeman said: It is astonishing to see that the Government are happy to label a large number of dancers, who have never participated in prostitution, as ‘sex encounter workers'. How can a lap dancer ever be expected to break
into a more socially respectable line of dancing with that on her CV.
And Labour's Lord Brett added: The word ‘encounter' could give the impression that lap dancing clubs and similar venues offer sex for sale and, by implication, stigmatise those who work at such venues. If the legislation remains as it stands, a large
number of dancers will be stigmatised career-long for truthfully putting this on their CV.
Stephen Less, owner of the Secrets chain of table-dancing clubs, told the Daily Star Sunday: The real bottom line is that the Government Bill, as it stands, will allow all local authorities to close down every existing, even well-run, table and lap
dancing club in England without giving a reason and without any right of appeal.
Equity is campaigning to prevent venues that host burlesque, pole and lap dancing from being classified as sex encounter establishments, warning that such a change will put dancers at risk of physical danger.
Under a government bill being debated such venues will require a Sex Encounter Establishment Licence within the Policing and Crime Bill. This could cost up to £30,000 per site.
Opponents of the reform fear that it will leave dancers out of work and impact the way they are perceived by the public.
Equity has tabled a motion to be put forward at the Trades Union Congress next month, which insists that entertainment venues are sufficiently covered by the Licensing Act 2003. It calls on the TUC to support calls for the reclassification to be dropped
by the government.
Equity spokesman Martin Brown told The Stage: We think it is simply wrong to categorise these places as sex encounter establishments. If the clientele go there thinking it is a sex encounter establishment, they may expect from these professional
dancers things they are not willing to give. That could put them at risk and at physical danger.
Ruby Rose of the Burlesque Women's Institute welcomed Equity's motion: Defining lap dancing, striptease or burlesque striptease as a ‘sex encounter' is a step backwards, being deeply misleading and potentially creating unnecessary stigma.
Meanwhile, Kate Nicholls, secretary of the Lap Dancing Association said: It is wholly inappropriate and a disproportionate response to concerns about the siting and operation of clubs. With licence costs of £30,000 per annum, there is little
doubt this measure will cost jobs. We hope the TUC takes note.
The Treasury has denied firms receive tax breaks for corporate visits to lap-dancing clubs after 'Equalities' Minister Harriet Harman denounced it.
Harman petitioned the chancellor to end tax relief on such events which she argued exclude female employees. However, the Treasury said corporate entertainment of any kind was not deductable for tax or VAT purposes.
Firms can claim back VAT for trips which were genuinely related to developing staf", a spokesman said. He said HM Revenue and Customs would likely have to examine whether such a visit to a lap-dancing club had been wholly and exclusively
for the benefit of business , and would more likely be seen as a "gift" or perk.
Harman told a meeting of extreme feminists of the Fawcett Society on Thursday: I will take up the issue of tax relief, because there is a whole host of rules around tax relief. For example you can't get tax relief for childcare, which is necessary for
you to go to work. Why should you be able to get tax relief for a night out at a lap-dancing club where effectively you are discriminating against women employees in doing so?"
A Treasury spokesman said it appeared Ms Harman had been misinformed: Corporate entertainment of any kind is not deductible for corporate tax or VAT purposes. Knowingly claiming for corporate entertainment is tax fraud and those who try to evade their
legal obligations will face penalties in addition to paying back any evaded tax.
Trade unions are calling on ministers to review plans to cut the number of lap dancing clubs, warning it could put many performers out of work.
Under proposed new laws, the clubs will be reclassified as sex encounter establishments , with owners having to pay up to £30,000 for a licence.
But the actors' union Equity has said dancers should not be put into the same category as sex workers. The TUC conference in Liverpool backed a motion urging a government rethink.
Equity has said its members who work in such clubs fear the proposed new law will reduce their employment opportunities and make them more vulnerable when they do work. The union has also voiced concern that the new rules could have an impact on popular
musicals and shows in which performers take their clothes off, including burlesque shows, which have become popular in recent years.
All lap-dancing clubs will have to apply for a new licence under new rules unveiled by the Government.
The Policing and Crime Bill establishes a new Sex Establishment Licence and all venues, even existing lap-dancing clubs, will have to apply for a new licence.
Local authorities will have the power to set a limit on the number of licences it grants.
The Government has admitted this could lead to a small number closing altogether but said an automatic grant of a licence would be contrary to the intent behind these reforms, which is to give local people greater say over the number and
location of lap-dancing clubs .
There will be a transitional period of 12 months for clubs to apply for a licence. Existing and new clubs can apply in the first six months, at the end of which local authorities will decide how many licences to grant. Applications for new licences in
the second six months will be considered on an individual basis if quotas have not been filled.
Local residents would be able to make representations against the granting of a sex establishment licence on the grounds that it is an inappropriate location or that the number in the area is already too great.
The Government have responded to the petition asking:
We the undersigned petition the Prime Minister to make an amendment to the Policing and Crime Bill 2008-2009 Section 25 to exclude any public performance or performance art from the act that involves the removal of clothing that
does not result in nudity as laid out in Section 25 and to exclude it from classification under the Sexual Encounter Entertainment License.
Under Section 25 of the proposed Policing and Crime Bill 2008-2009 Burlesque will potentially be eradicated due to the requirement of a Sexual Encounter Entertainment License even though there is no nudity in burlesque (as described
in section 25) it has been stated by certain boroughs already that the element of the removal of part of you clothing constitutes as stripping and therefore requires a license, although you are able to appear in front of an audience partially clothed you
are not allowed to remove any item of clothing in front of an audience in order to achieve this state without the aforementioned license. We would like this loop hole in the act removed to ensure that performances that involve the removal of part of your
clothing and do not result in nudity will not require licensing.
The Government's response:
Thank you for your e-Petition dated 6 May 2009 about the introduction of Clause 26 of the Policing and Crime Bill, and its impact on burlesque performances.
Clause 26 of the Policing and Crime Bill introduces a new category of sex establishment under Schedule 3 to the Local Government (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1982 called sex encounter venue . The purpose of these provisions
is to give local people a greater say over the number and location of lap dancing clubs and similar venues in their area.
Whether or not a venue will require a new licence will depend on the nature of the entertainment provided. Only venues who offer a live performances or live display of nudity, which is of such a nature that it must be reasonably
assumed to be provided solely or principally for the purpose of sexually stimulating any member of the audience , will need to apply for a sex establishment licence. Therefore, as long as a burlesque performance does not fit this definition a
new licence will not be required. There is also an exemption for infrequent events.
The Government believe this is the correct approach to ensure the measures are properly targeted and address the real concerns of local communities.
God rest you merry, gentlemen,
Let nothing you dismay,
For Ben Westwood our Saviour
Was called upon this day,
To save us all from Harman's power
When we were gone astray
Ben Westwood, photographer and ardent protector of all things erotic, is planning a new campaign.
The eccentric son of the fashion designer Dame Vivienne stopped traffic this time last year by parading a chain gang of fetishist models (think leather bondage gear and plenty of whips) through central London to demonstrate against a ban on
extreme pornography under the Criminal Justice Act. Now he hopes to pull off a similar stunt in protest at a perceived government threat to burlesque dancing.
Recently, several councils have considered reclassifying the stylised dance form alongside stripping and lap-dancing for licensing purposes. The matter, which has attracted discussion in the House of Lords, has caused dismay among the burlesque
Westwood hopes to galvanise support for his cause by organising a float of erotic Christmas carollers to serenade the Women's Minister, Harriet Harman, at her London home in December.
ap dancers from across Britain staged a protest outside Parliament in London over plans to toughen licensing laws, saying thousands of jobs are at risk.
We are looking at over 30,000 unemployed women, said Chris Knight, spokesman of For Your Eyes Only, which has 139 clubs in the U.K. No other industry would have this legislation forced on them. It is to satisfy the moral minority; they think we
are the devil incarnate.
About 40 women gathered outside Parliament today, holding placards saying, we are not sex workers and keep your laws off our bodies.
I am not saying that the industry is perfect, said Donna Roper, 20, who has worked for two years at the Medusa club in Birmingham, central England. But nor are they -- look at their expenses claims, she said, gesturing toward Parliament
where lawmakers were embroiled in an expenses scandal over the summer.
How the fuck are we expected
to know how old she is?
The UK Government bill introduced a clause in Coroners and Justice Bill to criminalise the possession of non photographic but pornographic images of children with draconian penalties of up to 3 years in prison.
This bill has now cleared all parliamentary hurdles with hardly any meaningful debate whatsoever. A couple of half hearted concerns that the bill may criminalise thousands of innocent people (Eg Hentai fans) were glossed over on a one in million
possibility that paedophiles may work around existing prohibitions via use of animation.
Freedom of Speech rightfully retained for Religions to Spout Hateful Nonsense
Other portions of the bill caused a little more debate:
Yesterday the Government was forced to accept Tory Peer Lord Waddington's free speech clause which says that criticising homosexual conduct is not, in itself, a crime.
An offence of inciting hatred on the grounds of sexual orientation was introduced by the Government last year, but the free speech defence, strongly opposed by the House of Commons, was inserted by former Home Secretary Waddington.
The latest round of votes took place this week with MPs voting to delete the clause on Monday and Peers voting to keep it.
Peers supported the clause by 179 votes to 135. In the House of Commons the Justice Secretary Jack Straw accepted the Lords vote. A Ministry of Justice spokeswoman said the government was very disappointed at the Lords vote, adding: There is no
doubt about the threshold of this offence. No freedom of expression section is needed to explain it. The threshold is a high one. The offence only covers words or behaviour that are threatening and intended to stir up hatred.
But she added the government could no longer delay the passage of the Coroners Bill. It is with considerable disappointment, therefore, that the government has agreed not to remove the freedom of expression section.
Roberta Blackman-Woods, the mean minded MP representing Durham, has welcomed the fact that the Policing and Crime Bill has passed its final parliamentary hurdle, with amendments between the two Houses of Parliament resolved.
The Bill contains provisions to restrict the licensing of lap dancing clubs, which Roberta campaigned for and persuaded the Government to include.
Blackman-Woods said : The new licensing regime will give local councils and local people far more of a say over the number and location of lap dance clubs in their area.
Despite Liberal Democrat amendments in the Lords supporting the lap dancing industry which would have substantially weakened the Bill, the Government held firm and made sure that local people would come first and that lap dance clubs would be subject to
strict but fair licensing arrangements. The Government has also announced that it is conducting a review of the whole issue of 'Temporary Event Notices' which is something I have been pressing for.
I will be urging Durham County Council to adopt the provisions and use the powers this Act will give it to as soon as possible.
The basic changes are that Sexual entertainment venues are now to be separately licensed from general bars.
Sexual Entertainment Venues are defined as having live performances including nudity that are intended as sexual stimulation. Events happening less than monthly are exempted
(1) In this Schedule sexual entertainment venue means any premises at which relevant entertainment is provided before a live audience for the financial gain of the organiser or the entertainer.
(2) In this paragraph relevant entertainment means—
(a) any live performance; or
(b) any live display of nudity;
which is of such a nature that, ignoring financial gain, it must reasonably be assumed to be provided solely or principally for the purpose of sexually stimulating any member of the audience (whether by verbal or other means).
(3) The following are not sexual entertainment venues for the purposes of this Schedule—
(a) sex cinemas and sex shops;
(b) premises at which the provision of relevant entertainment as mentioned in sub-paragraph (1) is such that, at the time in question and including any relevant entertainment which is being so provided at that time—
(i) there have not been more than eleven occasions on which relevant entertainment has been so provided which fall (wholly or partly) within the period of 12 months ending with that time;
(ii) no such occasion has lasted for more than 24 hours; and
(iii) no such occasion has begun within the period of one month beginning with the end of any previous occasion on which relevant entertainment has been so provided (whether or not that previous occasion falls within the
12 month period mentioned in sub-paragraph (i));
(c) premises specified or described in an order made by the relevant national authority.
Further definitions are included:
audience includes an audience of one
display of nudity means—
(a) in the case of a woman, exposure of her nipples, pubic area, genitals or anus; and
(b) in the case of a man, exposure of his pubic area, genitals or anus
Sexual Entertainment Venues are then liable to local authority licensing and of course fees. It is nominally optional for local authorities to adopt the new licensing regime.
In addition, councils have been given the arbitrary power to refuse licenses with the new justification:
that the number of sex establishments, or of sex establishments of a particular kind, in the relevant locality at the time the application is determined is equal to or exceeds the number which the authority consider is appropriate
for that locality .
Also objectors are no longer restricted to those who just live or work near the proposed venue.
However, the new regime still does not take into account objections on moral grounds.
The nightclub boss Peter Stringfellow has warned that he would appeal under human rights laws if he was forced to close his lapdancing clubs under new government regulations.
Hundreds of lap-dancing clubs will have to seek new licences under powers that are expected to force some premises to close. The new licensing regime will start on April 6, when clubs will be called sexual entertainment venues . They will
all have to apply for a fresh licence.
Local councils in England and Wales will be able to ban clubs from opening near schools or other buildings in quiet or busy neighbourhoods. The public will be given the right to oppose an application to open a club on the basis that the premises
are inappropriate .
Stringfellow and the Lap Dancing Association are threatening to go to the European Court of Human Rights if any club given specific permission to conduct lap dancing loses its licence. They claim that loss of the licence breaches human rights because
it deprives them of their possession.
Stringfellow said that the regulations had been brought forward because Jacqui Smith, the former Home Secretary, and Harriet Harman, the deputy leader of the Labour Party, were entranced by the radical feminist organisation known as the Fawcett
The owners of Calderdale's only lap-dancing club will have to pay an extra £2,300 a year if councillors adopt new licensing rules.
La Salsa in Silver Street, Halifax, was closed by the police for a month as part of a probe into people trafficking and money laundering. It reopened last week.
Calderdale Council Licensing Committee will be asked to adopt new powers under the 2009 Policing and Crime Act for the licensing of premises for sexual entertainment, which come into effect in April.
The draft conditions for such venues include a requirement for perfor- mers to wear a non-transparent g-string and for them to remain at least 12 inches from customers who must be seated at all times. The licensee is also prohibited from displaying any
potentially offensive material outside the premises suggesting erotic dancing takes place inside.
Ann Wardle, the council's head of customer services and communications, said: However, existing operators who do not apply or who are not granted a sex establishment licence may continue to provide lap dancing for a year .
Lap dancing clubs could use the Human Rights Act to oppose legislation allowing councils greater freedom to turn down lap-dancing licence
applications, venue owners say.
The Policing and Crime Act forces existing lap-dancing clubs to apply for new licences and allows councils to close venues for moralistic reasons.
Chris Knight, president of the Lap-Dancing Association (LDA), said clubs could take their appeals to the European Court of Justice. If local authorities don't give us new licences, they are effectively taking away our right to property and to
do business, as outlined in the Human Rights Act, and we will consider taking it as far as we have to in the courts, he said.
Local councils are likely to vigorously defend the legislation. Richard Kemp, vice-chairman of the Local Government Association (LGA), said: If they want a legal showdown, then we're going to test the depths of their pockets, because we're certainly
going to test ours.
Club owners argue that the legislation could infringe their right to property protection. The issue involves article 8 of the Human Rights Act which concerns the right to protection of private property, and activities pursuant to that property,
said licensing lawyer Richard Arnot. If an existing lap-dancing licence is your property, then you have the right to run a lap-dancing club, and the new legislation is arguably an infringement of that right.
Julian Skeens, head of licensing law at Jeffrey Green Russell and the LDA's solicitor, said appeal cases were likely to take a long time, and clubs could remain in business for some time.
The situation has angered nutter groups that pushed for the new law. Anna van Heeswijk, campaigns co-ordinator of Object, said: Human rights legislation exists to safeguard against discrimination and to promote principles of local democracy,
not to protect the rights of club owners to make a profit.
Strip clubs across Britain are facing closure as an increasing number of councils use new laws to ban them. Local
authorities are at varying stages of implementing licensing changes to close clubs and businesses.
There are about 300 clubs in Britain and many opened after a relaxation of the licensing law in 2003. A subsequent 2009 law rebranded lap dancing, pole dancing, and strip clubs as sex entertainment venues gave councils new morality
Ten councils, given the power to impose repressive restrictions, have already opted for nil policies which will refuse applications for any new venues.
Among them is Tower Hamlets Council in East London. It is supposedly awaiting the result of a public consultation whilst keenly anticipating the closure of 11 clubs in the borough.
In Leicester three clubs were denied licences last week while in the City of London repressive licensing rules saw its only club decline to apply.
Enfield Council in North London, one of a number of local authorities to ban the clubs despite never having had any. It passed a motion last month, under the slogan no sex please, we're Enfield , which stated that it would not allow new
Elsewhere in London, Hackney, Haringey, and the City of London have all capped their quotas for new clubs at zero, though Hackney has made one area, Haggerston, an exception for existing clubs.
Islington, which has four clubs, has also voted in a nil policy on new venues. Richmond upon Thames has adopted a nil policy on new venues and its last remaining venue will hear its fate next month.
Cambridge City Council brought in new licensing laws in June and its only club declined to apply.
Newcastle City Council capped the number of clubs at five, and all are having licences considered. There are a further 15 occasional venues , many of which have not applied.
A lap-dancing club has appealed against the arbitrary refusal of a licence to allow it to continue trading. Angels, in Braunstone Gate, West End, Leicester, faces having to close or cease its shows by the end of March, unless it can overturn the
decision by Leicester City Council.
Leicester councillors said they were concerned the application was being made on behalf of a third party for someone they would not grant a licence to. Councillors also claimed the club was not in an 'appropriate' location given that a sports
centre is being built by De Montfort University, in nearby Dun's Lane.
The council's head of licensing, Mike Broster, said Angels had appealed on both grounds and the case was due to be heard by magistrates at a date yet to be set.
Well, many readers may have heard of research being carried out by Professor Phil Hubbard on Sexual Entertainment venues. The initial results are in, and
although the full results are not due until March 2013, I have been given permission to produce a synopsis of the report. I will say at the outset of this post that the majority of the report is not surprising and does no harm to the industry; there is
one sticking point which I will discuss in more detail and explain why I feel that it is not likely to affect the industry.
There are 241 licensed premises regularly offering lap dancing or striptease in England and Wales. Nearly half (43%) of those applying for a Sexual Entertainment Venue (SEV) license have received no formal objections at all. This doesn't really come as
much of a surprise: most people are not bothered about the venues and there tends to be only a small handful of complainants who may write in. Given that Portsmouth managed to obtain a massive response following a very vocal campaign by pressure groups
to get the clubs shut down, with 113 against and over 3000 for the venues, the fact that some clubs receive no objections at all should not surprise anyone.
A survey of residents in towns and cities with lap dance clubs suggests that around one in five were not even aware there was an SEV operating in their town or city! Fewer than one in ten identified an SEV as a particular source of local nuisance, and in
some locations this was considerably lower. Once again not a surprise, as we have seen previously from my report on crime that the belief that venues are an issue for police is a fallacy.
Lib Dem MP Stephen Gilbert had set up a House of Commons debate to whinge about venues arranging occasional lap dancing events in Newquay.
He introduced his debate by admitting to being a begrudging 'liberal':
I want to say first what the debate is not. This is not a debate that is led by prudish intolerance in relation to sexual entertainment. I have never been to a lap-dancing club, and my view is that real men do not buy women for entertainment, but, as a
Liberal, I accept that if adults want to make such choices, that is up to them. The debate is about ensuring consistency in the application of the regulation of sexual entertainment on our high streets. It is about ensuring that performers in and patrons
of sexual entertainment venues---lap-dancing clubs---are properly protected and that local communities are involved in the decision-making process about where and when such venues should operate.
His basic contention was that occasional events allowed under licensing law were not governed by repressive council rules designed to ensure that table dancing is totally devoid of sexual entertainment such as dancers having to stay 3 feet aprt from
Jeremy Browne, the Not So Liberal Democrat Home Office minister, seemed to agree about the need for prudery and warned that venues are abusing an exemption intended to allow one-off events such as hiring a strip-a-gram for a birthday party.
He claimed one venue used the exemption after being refused a sexual entertainment licence following protests by a few residents. He said:
The venue in question has now begun operating sexual entertainment events within the exemptions of the Act.
This is not the occasional use of a strip-a-gram but a full 24 hour window once a month to operate as a full sexual entertainment venue.
This exemption has led, in Newquay, to lap-dancing nights being offered on this so-called occasional basis in direct competition to a licensed venue, but without any of the obligations that the licensed venue needs to meet.
Gilbert called for the Government to amend the law and suggested that venues hosting lap dancing events be subject to the same stringent requirements as licensed clubs. He said:
This would require minimal effort in terms of legislation, as the existing law does allow the relevant national authority to order, amend or repeal the exemption clause without the need for primary legislation.
Speaking on behalf of the Government, Jeremy Browne said he would look the matter to see whether the legislation is being used as it is supposed to. He said:
There may be some scope for us to make changes so that that flexibility is exercised in a way that is in line with the spirit of what Parliament intended when this legislation was announced in 2009.
It is possible for ingenious owners of bars to use the exemptions in a way which gives them more scope to provide regular entertainment of a sexual entertainment than was envisaged by ministers and Parliament when this legislation was introduced in 2009.
[If] an individual owned four or five venues in a single town, it would be possible for an individual to put on a sexual entertainment evening every Saturday night at one of those venues. In a way that goes beyond the spirit of the exemptions.
Taking Back the Night? Gender and the Contestation of Sexual Entertainment in England and Wales
By Colosi and Hubbard (forthcoming in Urban Studies, 2014)
Despite important moves towards gender equality, the experience of the night-time city remains profoundly different for women and men. The visibility of self-styled 'gentleman's clubs' where female dancers perform for a predominantly male clientele has
been taken as prime evidence of this persistent inequity. Opposition to such clubs has hence been vocal, with the result that many local authorities in England and Wales have moved to ban clubs within their jurisdiction utilising the powers of the
Policing and Crime Act, 2009. This paper explores the arguments that have per- suaded policy-makers to refuse licences for such venues, particularly the idea that sexual entertainment causes specific harms to women. The paper does not question the
veracity of such arguments, but instead explores why sexual entertainment venues have become a target of feminist campaigning, situating this opposition in the context of long-standing debates about the vulnerability of women in the night- time city.
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.