Deeper Blues…Judge rules that thinly veiled morality grounds are sufficient for Leeds Council to close table dancing clubs

Posted: 29 March, 2014 in Strip Pubs
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Old BaileyThe 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 general public 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 general public 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 prominent areas 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.

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