FIVE venues have been granted lap-dancing licences in Blackpool – despite councillors previously agreeing a policy to allow only four.
The council’s public protection sub-committee judged all five applicants met its strict criteria which includes 47 conditions including a ban on nudity.
It means Club Rouge and Solid Gold on Clifton Street, along with Sinless, Eden 2 and Heaven at Gaietys, all on the Promenade, can continue to operate after May 1 when the new licences are introduced.
Committee chairman Coun Norman Hardy said: “Our policy says four but overriding it is that we have to take each application on its merits.
“We now have five clubs run properly and safely, with conditions attached to their licences. I would rather have that than unlicensed venues running outside our control.”
Coun Hardy said further lap-dancing clubs could be allowed to open in the future if they also met the criteria.
He said; “If they tick all the right boxes, it would be difficult to refuse.”
He added there had been no objections from the police or the council’s enforcement team to any of the applications.
Coun Hardy said: “We have asked for a programme of improvements to be carried out at Eden because it is looking a bit tired, and also want to ensure we have quality venues.
“The committee visited the premises of each of the applicants prior to our meeting.
“At Heaven we realised there was a door leading from Gaiety’s which came past the changing rooms so we have said that needs to be locked as a fire exit.”
But the Tories, who had called for the number of clubs to be limited to just two, branded the move to have five venues a backward step.
Coun Peter Evans, leader of the Conservative group on the council, said: “Our policy was to clean up Blackpool and get rid of the sleaze, obviously the Labour Council want to introduce more.
“I asked if there would be a limit on these types of establishments and I was shocked to hear that as long as an operator ticks all the boxes they will be allowed to open.
“This is a huge backward step for the town.
“We could see dozens of these establishments opening in the town and at a few thousand pounds a time in application fees, it’s clear this administration puts money in the coffers before sense and decency.”
But Coun Hardy added: “The committee wasn’t looking at the morals of it.
“We are trying to be a family resort, but are you saying only families can come to Blackpool? If there is a need for these kind of clubs we may as well meet that need by having properly run clubs.”
Blackpool previously had seven lap dancing bars but Fallen Angels on Albert Road and Wicked on Chapel Street did not apply for one of the new licences, with the owner of the latter opting to return to running a normal music bar.
Nudity continues to be banned while customers must sit down throughout performances and are forbidden from touching dancers.
There are also strict controls on publicising premises.
The new policy was drawn up after the Government gave councils stronger powers to ensure lap-dancing bars do not open in areas deemed inappropriate.