Licensing changes are being implemented at various locations around the country which put into doubt the nation’s lap dancing and sex entertainment trade. With a consultation in progress in Tower Hamlets and three clubs being denied licences in Leicester just last month, Britain’s strip clubs and sex shops seem more under threat than ever.
What has long been classed as merely ‘entertainment’ and not as part of the sex industry, has suffered a reclassification to ‘sex entertainment venues’ back in 2009 which is now rearing its ugly head, to the acute disappointment of bankers and footballers across the country, commentators are suggesting.
10 Local Councils have already opted for ‘nil’ policies when assessing planning applications and will therefore see no more strip clubs starting in their areas, a stark contrast to the ‘boom’ of the aptly named ‘noughties’ which has seen an average of one establishment open every week in some years.
Proponents tout the policy as a way of ensuring greater safety for women and claim it is part of councils’ local responsibilities, but much evidence exists that the wider population are set against the idea.
In the example of Hackney, London, a public consultation turned up 66% of voters against the idea of banning such establishments – anecdotal evidence points to a record high male turnout. Dancers and professionals protested outside the town hall, but, going against public will, the council has now banned future strip clubs, sex shops and adult cinemas regardless.
Even this, however, does not spell the end for Hackney’s purveyors of nude professionals. The council clarified that “well-run, longstanding establishments” would remain.
With some 395 Local Authority districts yet to decide on a course of action, it remains to be seen whether politicians, so often prolific patrons of such establishments, will act to do away with Britain’s seedy side.