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Future of Leeds City Centre lap dancing club not to be decided for up to two weeks

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The operator of a lap dancing club in Leeds City Centre will have to wait up to two weeks to find out whether the venue can continue to run.

Leeds City Council's Licensing Sub Committee met today to consider whether to renew the licence of Whiskey Down on Crown Street to enable it to remain a sexual entertainment venue.

Site operator Tokyo Industries (Lincoln York Hull) Limited said there would be lap dancing, pole dancing and stage strip teases.

A Sex Establishment Licence was granted for the venue on March 31 2017 - but this expired after 12 months, at the end of March this year.

Paddy Whur, representing the applicant, told today's meeting that there had been a "significant drop" in the level of opposition to the club. He said last year's licensing application attracted 77 objections, including from councillors, nearby residents, and business owners, whilst this year, there were three.

He said: "Their fears were not born out."

Leeds Civic Trust objected to the application, stating that the venue, accessed off Assembly Street, is close to "family destination" the Corn Exchange.

It said: "This area has a number of buildings of historical importance, including the Grade I-Listed Corn Exchange - arguably the most important listed building in Leeds."

The trust also expressed concern over the impact of late trading hours on residential properties nearby.

An objection submitted on behalf of Support After Rape and Sexual Violence Leeds raised fears over gender equality.

It said: "We believe that a sexual entertainment venue directly discriminates against women by normalising the sexualisation and objectification of women."

Coun Kim Groves, one of the three members of the licensing committee, said it "possibly does" discriminate and told those present that some of the advertising material for the venue made her feel "uncomfortable".

The authority's licensing policy for sex establishments states that a "maximum of four" venues is appropriate for the city centre, providing they are not near properties with sensitive uses including historic buildings, residential areas and shopping areas. Whiskey Down became the fourth licensed venue in the city last year.

Mr Mhur told the meeting the club was a "high quality" venue, adding: "Whilst it is something that is not everyone's cup of tea, we are doing everything in line with the policy that the council has set out."

No comments from West Yorkshire Police were made regarding the renewal application.

Councillors were also asked to consider removing a condition on the licence requiring a security doorman to be on Crown Street during the club's hours of operation (10pm-4am Sundays-Thursdays and 10pm-5am Fridays and Saturdays).

The application stated that a sophisticated CCTV system covered the area and the doorman, which is in addition to security at its entrance and on its premises, had not been required to deal with a single incident since the business began trading.

Committee chairman Coun Neil Buckley said a decision on the licence renewal will be made in writing to the operator within 14 days.