Archive for the ‘Strip Pubs’ Category

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federation of scottish theatre logo Theatre productions that contain nudity will be exempt new repressive licensing laws covering sexual entertainment, the Scottish ‘Justice’ Secretary has said.Michael Matheson moved to reassure MSPs that the proposed new licensing regime will not impact on artistic freedom of expression on the stage enjoyed by the cultural elite.

Holyrood’s Local Government and Prudery Regeneration Committee has heard that measures in the Air Weapons and Licensing (Scotland) Bill could have an inadvertent impact on risque shows. The Bill would allow local authorities to ban sexual entertainment venues in an area.

Jon Morgan, director of the Federation of Scottish Theatre, told the committee last month that this could affect performances at the Edinburgh Festival which contain nudity or explore issues such as pornography. His concerns were raised by independent MSP John Wilson, who asked Mr Matheson to give theatres an assurance that they would be exempt from the legislation.

We’ve heard in evidence as a committee from theatre group representatives who were concerned that they may be impacted upon in terms of their artistic expression by some vexatious complaints or other individuals using the legislation as proposed to shut down certain theatre productions.

Matheson said:

I think it’s a fair point to be raised and a reasonable concern for some establishments to actually have. That is why we’re going to take forward some guidance in order to give some specific direction around this area about the types of premises and circumstances that would be exempt in these circumstances, so that could be for example a theatre production that does involve some nudity in it for a particular performance or series of performances that they are operating.

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ealing council logo Not widely reportedit appears, but an application for a new Table dancing club in Actonwas rejected last week by Ealing Council on supposed grounds of ‘locality’.Ealing’s policy for sex establishments only identifies Acton Town Centre as suitable for a club, and the residential districts as unsuitable.

Refusing a licence on grounds of being in an industrial area rather smacks of a morality decision, with only a nearby leisure centre as a straw to cling to.

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The Scottish Parliament Scotland’s new Licensing (Scotland) Bill iscurrently being discussed by the Scottish Parliament. A committee invited Professor Phil Hubbard, whohas been following such issues, to speak about the experiences in England where similar control laws have been in place for some time.He spoke of the expenses incurred by councils when their morality based decisions to ban table dancing clubs are formally challenged in the courts.

Hubbard noted that a one-size-fits-all policy for all Scottish councils would prevent the farcical situation in England and Wales where one council’s decision to refuse a strip club licence can be successfully challenged – at great expense to the council – because a neighbouring council is more liberal.

National guidelines should be set on licensing fees – which range from £300 to £26,000 down south – and the amount of nudity permitted on show, he told Holyrood’s Local Government Committee.

National guidelines were backed by the women’s anti lap dancing campaign group,  Zero Tolerance.

But the strip clubs’ trade association warned against central government imposing a draconian regime on councils, arguing that the ban on religious comedy Life Of Brian in Glasgow or the ban on cult French porn movie Emmanuelle in some rural cinemas demonstrates the diverse moral sensibilities in Scotland’s communities which should be respected.

Hubbard said:

I think the introduction of the Police And Crime Act 2009 in the UK was by and large farcical in terms of the way it was allowed to proceed.

What we have in England and Wales is a situation that I would like to see avoided in Scotland, where we have a licensing regime for these establishments in one local authority but not in a neighbouring one.

Fees for these establishments range from £300 to £26,000.

We have a situation where some local authorities will ban nudity and others will not.

The whole situation has led to a whole range of appeal cases and litigation in which legal unreasonableness and inconsistency have been raised as valid concerns, and some of these appeals have been upheld.

It has created a great deal of anxiety, expenditure and time for local authorities who have been left to evolve policies of their own.

He didn’t appear to mention much about the suffocating uncertainty and the effects of arbitrary moral censorship on businesses trying to make a living.

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Birmingham Council Birmingham City Council has imposed a cap of eight lap dancing clubs in Birmingham city centre, saying they will allow no more to open.The council’s licensing committee claimed there are fears that any more strip clubs, particularly in the Broad Street and pub and club areas, would lead to the city getting a sleazy reputation [to go with its reputation for letting schools get out of control?].

Four years ago the committee decided not to set a limit on sexual entertainment venues, but now opinions have changed and they have decided to impose a limit of eight within the city centre ring road, the current number.

There have been as many as 12 active strip club licences in Birmingham, although not all businesses were active at the same time.

Coun Gareth Moore (Cons, Erdington) threatened a further reduction, albeit without closing down operating clubs:

Reducing it further would not be fair on existing businesses which have been operating for a number of years given us no problems. If a sexual entertainment venue were to go out of business, we could then consider reducing the cap further.

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scarborough borough council logo Scarborough Borough Council’s Licensing Committee has refused an application for a sexual entertainment venue (SEV) licence at Chic Bar in Scarborough.The application for the venue on the first floor of the bar, referred to as Little Black Book , was unanimously refused on the basis that the layout and character of the premises was inappropriate for use as a SEV as set out in the application.

The committee cited the lack of central location for facilities for dancers as one of the reasons for refusal as areas spread across the premises would mean dancers regularly having to move from place to place via parts of the building open to members of the public. Other reasons included lack of a smoking area for customers and staff, which would mean dancers having to stand with the public in the alleyway outside the premises in order to smoke, and the inappropriate location of toilets for customers, which would result in female (and sometimes male) customers having to use a restricted staircase under supervision or leave the premises in order to re-enter the premises on the ground

99 representations from members of the public were made against the application but the majority of these did not demonstrate any statutory grounds for refusal under the formal licensing process and therefore the committee could not take these into account when reaching its decision.

The applicant now has 21 days to appeal.

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platinum lounge chester logo Chester’s table-dancing club has won a High Court appeal against a council decision to close it down.Platinum Lounge, had its licence revoked by Cheshire West and Chester Council’s licensing committee last September for no real reason. The committee claimed that the nightclub, which has been open since 2005 without incident, was somehow too close to residential properties. The committee ruled that where Platinum Lounge was situated was no longer suitable due to an increase of 94 in the number of people living nearby.

The High Court judge ruled Cheshire West and Chester Council violated its own constitution when it refused to renew the licence of a lap-dancing club in the city’s historic heart. Mr Justice Stuart-Smith overturned the committee’s decision on the sole ground it was taken in breach of the council’s constitution. He said it was clear the decision should have been taken by a three-member sub-committee, rather than the full committee of 15:

It is clear beyond argument that the constitution said and meant that Bridgerow’s renewal application should have been decided by a panel of three members, drawn from the full committee on a politically proportionate basis. Equally clearly, that is not what happened.

Unfortunately the judge seemed to confirm that the council bollox that 94 new nearby residents was enough to close down an established business with a staff of 40. He commented that the reasons given by the committee:

while they could have been fuller and could have been more clearly expressed — were perfectly comprehensible.

The club has had its licence reinstated until a new renewal application is considered.

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bolton councilBolton Council havea approved a new policy effectively banning new table dancing clubs and sex shops.Under the guidelines pole dancing clubs, strip shows and sex cinemas will not be allowed to open near schools, houses, parks, tourist attractions, religious buildings or any existing entertainment venues.

Cllr Nick Peel, the member in charge of licensing, said in reality it means new applicants looking to open a sexual entertainment venue in Bolton will find it very difficult. He said:

The criteria doesn’t really leave much left in terms of areas.

We have not been overrun with sex applications — it just doesn’t happen — but the government said we had to have a policy.

Existing establishments will probably be okay with the new rules, as this is not retrospective and they will continue to apply for the licences every year in the usual way.