Sex venues clampdown

Lap dancing club, Fallen Angels in Albert Road
Lap dancing club, Fallen Angels in Albert Road
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TOUGH new rules could limit the number of lap-dancing and striptease clubs in Blackpool to just two.

A new policy being considered by the council could also ban the venues from opening on the Promenade, close to schools, churches or other places of worship, or within 200 metres of family shopping areas.

They could also be barred from operating in “close proximity” to residential areas, tourist attractions, or community facilities such as parks, leisure centres and youth clubs, including anywhere used by under-16s.

Venues would only be allowed in the town centre wards of Bloomfield, Claremont and Talbot.

The draft policy will be considered by councillors next week before going out for public consultation.

A report to members of the public protection sub-committee says: “The council acknowledges that a concentration of licensed premises in a particular area can result in a potential fear of crime, anti-social behaviour, noise pollution and other disturbance to residents.

“In such cases the amenity of local residents can be placed under severe pressure.”

Any venue which holds more than 11 strip tease shows in a year will have to apply for one of the new licences.

The powers are part of the new Policing and Crime Bill which means lap-dancing clubs will be controlled under the same regulations governing sex shops and cinemas showing explicit films.

Blackpool Council currently licences two sex shops.

Vicky Cartmell, licensing solicitor at Blackpool Council, said: “The policy will go before the public protection sub-committee and then out to consultation. The responses will then be considered and therefore the current policy isn’t necessary the format that will be ultimately approved.”

Currently there are three lap-dancing clubs operating in Blackpool – Wicked on Chapel Street, Eden on the Promenade, and Heaven, below Gaiety’s, also on the Promenade.

There are two redundant premises – Fallen Angels and Claudias, both on Albert Road.

From May 2 existing operators have six months to apply for one of the new licences and at the end of that period all applications received will be considered together.

Further licences could be granted if the council felt there were exceptional reasons for it to depart from its policy, and each application must be considered individually on merit.

The new licences will take effect from May 2 2012.

Under the 2003 Licensing Act, lap-dancing clubs were licensed like bars and pubs. That meant they could only be closed down if they created problems such as crime or public safety.

The current Tory administration at Blackpool Council has already used its existing powers to clamp down on lap-dancing clubs in order to protect Blackpool’s family image.