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Lap-dancing club rules change comes into force

6 April 10 06:22 GMT

Lap-dancing clubs in England must apply to councils for a licence under new rules which have come into force.

The venues are now classed as sex establishments rather than as pubs or cafes, making it easier for people to say they are "inappropriate".

Councils will only be able to reject the application for a licence on the grounds of crime, nuisance or public safety - but not for moral reasons.

The change will be introduced in Wales and Northern Ireland at later dates.

Clubs will also have to pay for new licences under the new rules.

Chris Knight, from the Lap Dancing Association, believes the changes could affect many businesses.

'Firm action'

He said it "isn't a licence that's replacing what we've already got", but is "in addition" to an existing one.

Mr Knight said: "The licences range in cost from £4,000 to £30,000 depending on the council.

"So it is an extra cost as well, and it has to be renewed annually. Indeed some local authorities will see it as a bit of a golden carrot."

Richard Kemp, deputy chairman of the Local Government Association, worked with the Fawcett Society - which campaigns for equality between men and women - to draw up the new regulations.

He said: "We're most concerned about places where they've grown up in suburban areas - where kids are going to school.....where they're near churches and there are quite lurid displays.

"The trouble is people have been coming along to councils and councillors and saying this is disgraceful what are you doing about it?

"And the answer until today has been nothing, because we've had no powers to act. Now we're able to take firm action against lap-dancing."

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