D-day for two Leeds city centre lap dancing clubs

A dancer posing at Purple Door, in York Place, Leeds. Picture by James Hardisty.
A dancer posing at Purple Door, in York Place, Leeds. Picture by James Hardisty.
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Two lap dancing clubs in Leeds city centre will have their futures decided by council licensing chiefs tomorrow.

Both the Liberte and Purple Door sexual entertainment venues (SEV), in the York Place area of Leeds’s business district, have applied to renew their licences, prompting objections from campaigners.

The clubs account for two-thirds of the city centre’s remaining lap dancing clubs following a crackdown that saw Red Leopard and Wildcats, on The Headrow, and Deep Blue, near Leeds City Station, close last December.

A 230-page dossier on the future of the clubs, which cites both public and licensing complaints about the conduct of flyering staff, will be examined when Leeds City Council’s licensing sub-committee meets tomorrow.

A public objection to both applications cites that the clubs are within metres of the offices of Leeds Children’s Charity and as such are in a “sensitive” location. It also talks of women not receiving “equal treatment”.

The objection, published as part of the report, states: “There can be few more pathetic sights than observing males, some with respectable employment in posts of public esteem, shuffling down grubby little back streets and crawling into such establishments which, on their own admission, are rapidly fading into obsolescence.”

In the report the conduct of at times “aggressive” SEV promotional teams was highlighted, while Liberte’s 14 teams of two people drew extra criticism.

Council enforcement and senior liaison officer Samantha Longfellow said: “We are concerned Leeds city centre is being saturated with promotional teams for SEVs.”

Officers also noted several complaints from the public, while suggesting conditions to the clubs’s licences should be enforced including limiting promo teams to five groups of two people who should not cause “public annoyance or offence”.

The decision-making council committee could grant either or both of the clubs renewed licences of up to 12 months.

NEW POLICY WAGED WAR ON VENUES

The number of lap dancing clubs in Leeds was slashed after Leeds City Council changed its policy last year.

New guidelines meant that the way that sexual entertainment venues were licensed changed in September 2013, with new powers to prevent strip joints from operating in “sensitive” areas such as near schools, religious or public buildings.

The move was hailed as a long-awaited victory for campaigners and within months Leeds’s array of seven strip clubs was cut. The current policy determines that a maximum of four SEVs can operate in the city centre.

The policy, which the council said was prompted by “strong public concern”, was drawn up by a working group following a survey of over 1,800 members of its Citizens Panel.

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