Wednesday, 27 Oct 2021

Stripping back! Blackpool votes to ban lap dancing clubs in bid to be ‘family friendly’

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The rules will not shut the town’s existing four clubs which will be allowed to remain open. But their licences will not be renewed once they expire.

The council has also allowed only one sex shop to trade in the town.

Before it was passed by the council, operators warned that it could drive lap dancing underground and put workers at “alarmingly high” risk of harm.

News of the proposed crackdown on sexual entertainment venues (SEVs) was first revealed in January, the Local Democracy Reporting Scheme said.

Following a public consultation, the updated policy was approved by the licensing committee in September.

It has now been formally agreed on by the council’s executive.

Councillor Neal Brookes, cabinet member for enforcement, public safety, highways and transport, said the town had been “working towards a zero limit on the number of SEVs and lap dancing clubs”.

Blackpool Council hopes the decision will both better reflect its aim to be more family-friendly, and show support of the White Ribbon campaign to reduce violence towards women.

But Ashley Sayers, whose family has operated Eden Two gentlemen’s club on the Promenade for 14 years, slammed the decision.

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She said: “These girls range from single mums working to provide for their families, to career entertainers who have been in the industry longer than myself and used their income to invest in property and start their own business.

“The industry will be forced underground and the girls will be tempted, if not forced to work in places such as hotels for private bachelor partiers where their risk of sexual assault and financial exploitation would be alarmingly high.”

The controversial move was not welcomed by all councillors either.

Councillor Graham Baker initially was in favour of the move but changed his mind after listening to objections.

He said: “In January, I was in favour on the grounds of trying to establish Blackpool as a family venue.

“However, in view of the objections, it made me think again.

“You can’t look through the windows of these establishments and the children don’t see anything.

“There’s nothing obvious to children that there is this type of establishment.

“We are never going to get rid of this sort of establishment.

“It is likely to be driven underground where it is not licensed and the workers haven’t got the protections they have at the moment. I am thinking that our decision in January was flawed.”

Other changes include tighter controls over how dances are paid for and a ban on dancers taking mobile phones into performance areas.

The policy, which was last revised in 2016, will be effective until 2026 when the next review is due.

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