New licensing policy to control Leeds sex venues

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POLE and lap dancers employed by Leeds clubs are to be given information packs to help improve their protection and welfare.

Among the information provided will be guidance on how to report a crime, copies of the codes of practice for entertainers and customers and details of unions and other organisations representing the interests of lap dancers and entertainers.

Information from the packs will also be put in the dancers’ dressing rooms.

The onus on clubs to provide the packs forms part of a new draft policy drawn up by the council to control the location and running of sexual entertainment venues.

Advertising, staff welfare and the external appearance of buildings are among the issues covered by the licensing policy, which applies to lap dancing venues, strip clubs, sex shops and sex cinemas.

Due to be introduced in phases starting in October, it also sets out that booths and VIP areas used for private dances must be supervised, not have closed doors or curtains and be monitored by CCTV.

Public consultation over the policy drew mixed responses, with some arguing it was too lenient and favoured the club operators, while another respondent said “in an industry where the potential for exploitation is high, fair regulation is only right and proper.”

Some people called for the council not to allow any sexual entertainment venues in the city. It was suggested Leeds was becoming “increasingly seedy at night.”

Coun Suzi Armitage, Licensing Committee chairman, said: “We have spent the last few months speaking to many groups and organisations to help us fully understand people’s concerns.

“This new policy is not about endorsing such venues but will help us control where they can be located, preventing them from opening up in inappropriate areas. But we also want to ensure they operate in a safe and discreet way so the policy also looks at how we can best protect staff welfare and control advertising and external appearance.”

The committee has endorsed the policy and it will now be referred to the council’s executive board for final approval.

A road traffic sign is in front of the Union Jack and the European Union flag hanging outside Europe House in Smith Square, London.  Photo: Yui Mok/PA Wire

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