Leeds sex club wins new licence despite objections from rape support charity

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A Leeds city centre lap-dancing club has been granted a new trading licence, despite concerns being raised about the safety and welfare of women working on the premises.

Leeds City Council’s Licensing Sub-Committee has today (Tuesday) approved the application by Silks, on Sovereign Street, to extend its licence for another year. Its existing permission expired in March.

The Support After Rape and Sexual Violence Leeds (SARSVL) charity had objected to the licence renewal.

Its letter said: “Such establishments contribute to the sexual objectification of women and raise concern about the welfare of women working in the clubs, the impact on the environment around the clubs; how women feel about walking around these areas and what happens to them when they do.”

However in its application dossier, the venue promised secure and private changing facilities, safety training and extra security and monitoring of private booths.

The application specified that dancers should arrange to be picked up at the end of shifts, or book a taxi.

The policy also recommended that “dancers leave the venue in groups of two or more for added safety”.

In 2013, Leeds City Council put a cap on the number of lapdancing clubs allowed to trade in the city at any one time, slashing the maximum to four from the seven that were operating at the time.

Silks has been operating since 2009. It almost lost its annual review in 2015, as the development of a park nearby fuelled concerns that the location was “not appropriate for a sexual entertainment venue”. However bosses agreed to have an alternative use for the ground floor unit during the day to offset the concerns. The ground floor unit now operates as a nail bar.

The renewed licence for Silks comes just weeks after the council approved a controversial two-floor lap dancing club to open next to one of Leeds’ most historic buildings.

Tokyo Industries Ltd was granted a sex establishment licence to operate the seven-day city centre lap-dancing venue Black Orchid in Crown Street, next to the Corn Exchange. The building formerly housed the Townhouse and Chilli White nightclubs.

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