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Leeds lapdance boss fights back over closure

Paul Gourlay.

Paul Gourlay.

A lap dance club owner has defended the industry after launching a High Court fight to save his business.

Leeds City Council last week refused to renew licences for three clubs because of their location in “sensitive” areas.

Wildcats and Red Leopard, on The Headrow, and Deep Blue, on Wellington Street, were told they must stop operating by tonight.

It came after the council introduced a policy stating there should be a maximum of four “sexual entertainment venues” (SEVs) in Leeds.

Wildcats owner Paul Gourlay, who has already spent tens of thousands of pounds making his case, is now seeking a judicial review.

He said the new policy was wrongly based on moral judgements.

“If you have moral issues about women wanting to take their clothes off for payment, that’s your own viewpoint,” he said. “But that can’t be used as grounds for refusing a licence.

“We have been here eight years without incident. The dancers are well looked after, they earn good money, they are treated well. Not one of them feels pressured or objectified.”

The new policy on SEVs was drawn up after a survey of the council’s Citizens Panel and a public consultation.

But Mr Gourlay said the consultation process was flawed – and the council refused to take into account the concessions he was prepared to make. The other two clubs have also made High Court appeals.

Mr Gourlay said that the council could face a legal bill of £1million defending itself and that hundreds would be left jobless if the closures go ahead.

He added: “When you get to the bottom of this, that’s £1million of taxpayers’ money to put 400 people out of work because some people have moral issues with what we do. How can that be right?”

He was still waiting to find out yesterday if Wildcats would be allowed to stay open until the appeal is heard, but Deep Blue has been granted leave to continue operating.

The council said it could not comment while legal proceedings were pending.

 

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