Government Wages War on Lapdancing Clubs
Mary Creagh, the Bishop of Wakefield and the Dean of Wakefield Cathedral have welcomed the Government's new plan to curb the spread of lap dancing clubs. All existing lap dancing clubs will be forced to reapply for their licence to operate from next year. This will give Wakefield Council new powers to prevent establishments like the Rouge Coffee Lounge and Bar at the Bull Ring from offering "adult entertainment."
From April 2010 all existing lap dancing clubs will have six months to seek a fresh licence. Those which do not gain approval from the local authority will have to close. The changes are contained in the Policing and Crime Bill currently making its way through Parliament. As a result, lap dancing clubs will be reclassified for licensing purposes as sex establishments rather than entertainment venues.
After reclassification residents opposed to lap dancing clubs in Wakefield will be able to lobby the local authority to reject applications on much wider grounds. The Council will also have direct powers to curb the numbers of sex establishments where there are concerns about their impact on a neighbourhood.
Mary Creagh, MP for Wakefield said: "I am delighted the government is taking action on this. We want to give local people greater say over the number and location of lap dancing clubs in their area. I objected to the lap dancing application at the Bull Ring as it is sited next to Wakefield's tourist information centre in a civic square. My objection was ruled out of order by the Licensing Department. After the rule change next April it will be much easier for local residents to keep the sex industry out of their communities."
Home Office minister Alan Campbell added: "These important reforms will give local authorities the powers they have called for to allow them to respond more effectively to the views of local people, who have become increasingly concerned about the number of lap dancing clubs being established in their communities."
Dean of Wakefield Cathedral, the Rt Rev Jonathan Greener said: "I am delighted to learn of this new legislation. The planning issues concerning Rouge Coffee Lounge highlighted the inadequacies of the present system, and it is very heartening to see that the government has taken this action to help safeguard people and communities."
When the new rules come into force, councils will have the power to order the closure of clubs that are already open if they believe that they are too near to a school or in a similarly inappropriate location. Local authorities will also be able to shut down existing premises - as well as veto new clubs - if there are already too many in a particular area and to set a wider range of conditions on those that are allowed to open.
Under existing licensing rules, objections can only be considered if they demonstrate that an application should be rejected in order to prevent crime and disorder, public nuisance or to ensure public safety and the protection of children from harm. There are an estimated 300 lap dancing clubs across the country.