Rape victim charity calls for two Leeds strip clubs to have licenses axed

A charity which helps female victims of sexual abuse has called on Leeds City Council not to renew licences for two of the city’s four lap dancing clubs.
Should the clubs have their licenses rejected?Should the clubs have their licenses rejected?
Should the clubs have their licenses rejected?

Members of the Leeds City Council licensing sub-committee will meet next week to discuss the futures of Silk’s in Soverign Place and Whiskey Down in Crown Street.

The two venues must renew their sexual entertainment licences for the coming year, with each requesting to continue with their current hours of 10pm-4am on Sunday to Thursday and 10pm-5am on Friday and Saturday.

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However, Support After Rape and Sexual Violence Leeds (SARSVL), an organisation which supports women who have been affected by rape and abuse, claims the council should reject the licences.

A letter from the charity to the council, regarding both the clubs, said: “Fear of sexual violence is a reality faced by women and girls in our society and it is the responsibility of all those in positions of authority to ensure that they do all they can to ensure that this fear does not translate into reality.

“Sexual violence against women and girls is inseparable from the objectification of women and girls. Sexual violence is the actualisation of women and girls having the right to control their own bodies taken out of their hands.

“Lap dancing clubs exemplify this objectification. Their everyday operation depends on it, including their advertising, promotion and commercial practice.”

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The letter stated that an increase in the number of residential developments in the city centre could mean the venues had potential to create problems.

It added “This includes but is not restricted to Student accommodation with more development in progress.

“The existence of lap dancing clubs within Leeds City centre has the ability not just to create but to increase the fear felt by women and girls, within and around areas where they live, especially but not exclusively at night, when clubs such as these are open.

“In conclusion, SARSVL contends that [the council] should not renew the license for this club for the reasons stated above.”

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For each of the applications, Leeds City Council’s licensing team suggested adding conditions to the licences which state nobody under the age of 18 should be allowed to carry out subcontracted flyering work for the bars.

The application for Whiskey Down’s renewal claimed the premises would have adequate CCTV, an age verification policy and measures taken to ensure the behaviour of its clientele on and off the premises. It also claims measures will be put in place to “prevent the emission of odours which are a nuisance at nearby premises or persons in the immediate area”.

Silks’ application claimed it also had a sophisticated CCTV system and door personnel. It added that there was no interaction with residents in the area as nobody lived close enough to the venue.

The meeting will take place on Tuesday, May 14.