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Leeds lap dancing clubs face new threat

BELATED VICTORY: Campaigners would welcome a move to cut the number of lap dance clubs.

BELATED VICTORY: Campaigners would welcome a move to cut the number of lap dance clubs.

  • by Sam Casey
 

The number of lap dancing clubs in Leeds could be slashed in a move that would mark a long-awaited victory for campaigners.

A new draft policy recommends that Leeds City Council imposes a limit of four clubs – three fewer than are currently operating.

It also suggests banning strip joints from “sensitive locations”, for example near schools and religious and public buildings.

The news comes less than a year after a campaign by religious leaders and politicians calling on the council to introduce a cap apparently failed when all seven existing clubs were given new sexual entertainment venue (SEV) licences.

But the council said “strong public concern” had prompted a review of its current policy.

The new proposals were welcomed by Leeds West MP Rachel Reeves, who led last year’s campaign.

She said: “I want Leeds to be seen as a welcoming, family-friendly city and I do not feel that the proliferation of lap dancing clubs in prominent locations sends out a positive image of our city to visitors. I hope that the licensing committee uses the cap on the number of venues as a way of doing this.”

The policy was drawn up by a council working group following a survey of more than 1,800 members of the council’s Citizens Panel.

Asked how many lap dancing clubs was appropriate for the city centre, 59 per cent said four or fewer, of which nearly half said there should be none.

The licensing committee is now likely to put the draft policy out for public consultation.

Coun Peter Gruen, executive member for neighbourhoods, said: “It will be up to licensing committee members to determine if the draft policy is issued for further consultation; and it will again be up to members to determine the final policy based on feedback from that further public consultation.”

Bishop of Ripon and Leeds, the Rt Revd John Packer, is backing the new policy.

He said: “This seems an appropriate response to the concerns expressed by many that some parts of Leeds city centre could be effectively barred to children and families because of the sheer number of SEVs.

“It is important that the city of Leeds is seen as a place of welcome and encouragement to all.”

Lap dancing clubs in Leeds declined to comment.

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