Lap off!

Here’s my latest column from the Ham & High:

Watch out! A lap-dancing club could be coming to your local high street soon. Would you like one to open up in Highgate Village, Muswell Hill Broadway or Lordship Lane?

Whilst I don’t believe government should be in the business of banning lap-dancing clubs from existing – people should be free to choose – there’s a time and a place, most particularly a place, for such establishments. I don’t believe that they should be sited right next to schools, near to vulnerable young people or in a busy shopping street in the middle of residential area.

Whilst the current furore over an application for a lap-dancing club is in Crouch End Broadway – there is in fact a rush of new applications as people try to get in before the laws are tightened up by the Policing Bill, which is currently going through Parliament.

Currently the license needed is the same for lap-dancing as for a pub or club. The new legislation will reclassify lap-dancing as a ‘sex encounter’ establishment which will then require the same license as the rest of the sex trade. This will give local authorities the right to refuse an application on the grounds of location – particularly if the site is near schools etc.

Giving this extra discretion seems very sensible to me – a pub and a lap-dancing club are very different establishments. Indeed, I can’t imagine why it took so long to recognise that difference as lap-dancing (if you will excuse the expression) is very ‘in your face’ sexual – that’s the point of it!

Facing this future where local authorities and local people have more control over where such places can open, those running or wanting to run lap-dancing clubs are trying to get their applications approved before the rules change. In addition, the Lap Dancing Association is lobbying MPs to try and get ‘grandfather rights’ which would mean that clubs with existing licenses will automatically be granted a new type license.

There is another battle shaping up over whether or not the final legislation will include an exemption for venues hosting lap-dancing less than once a month. This would greatly weaken the new rules – which is why I’m opposing this change.

When the final rules become law, they will be ‘optional’ in the sense that councils will be able to decline to use the new powers to judge and reject applications. On this – Haringey Council has said that it will take up the full powers – thank goodness.

So whilst in Parliament I’m fighting to stop the rules being watered down, meanwhile, back on the home front I have joined up with the local campaigners and local Liberal Democrat councillors to fight the Crouch End application.

Lap Off is the name of the campaign. I hope that the licensing panel will turn it down on May 14 – and I hope to be able to speak to support the campaigners on the night. With Rokesley School literally a stone’s throw away, Hornsey Girls School just around the corner, and both Action for Kids (a charity for young people with learning disabilities) and the YMCA with vulnerable residents all within a tiny distance – in my view it would never in a million years qualify for a license under the new legislation. And what woman or girl would honestly feel completely comfortable getting off at the bus stop outside such a club at night when they return home from an evening out?

But even under the existing rules, I believe that the actual detrimental impact on people’s lives as well as the usual noise, litter, etc should be enough to stop the proposal in its tracks.

To sign the petition to the licensing sub-committee go to www.petitiononline.com/lapoff/petition-sign.html.

0 thoughts on “Lap off!

  1. “what woman or girl would honestly feel completely comfortable getting off at the bus stop outside such a club at night when they return home from an evening out?”How very heteronormative and sex-negative. Oh well.

  2. I don’t mind keeping them away from the schools – that seems reasonable – but can we please quit with the anti-sex attitudes? Adult-only things are not bad things.

  3. “And what woman or girl would honestly feel completely comfortable getting off at the bus stop outside such a club at night when they return home from an evening out?”Come on Lynne – you can do better than that.Plenty of things make me feel less than completely comfortable but I don’t suggest we should use that as a criteria for banning things.

  4. I disagree with the last comment. I do not want to ban lap dancing clubs. But I do want to have a say over where they appear. I think that is the same as Lynne Feathrstone’s view, as she also talks in her piece about a time and a place for lap dancing.So why this talk as if it is about banning?Taking any say away about location from residents is too New Labour for my liking!

  5. Assuming that the owners of the Club are not necessarily advocating a sex club, but rather exploring ways to generate a profit from premises that have never been a goldmine, is there any way that we can work with them, generate alternative incomes, retain the place as a music venue (It’s a great place to play in and to listen)?

  6. Good luck with your campaign Lynne.Have you set up a Facebook group on this?This kind of thing should be kept away from children definately. I am curious to know if there is any evidence that shows women are right to fear such places, are sex attacks more likley to take place when men leave such places? Has there been any research? If the answer is no, then that doesn’t make women any safer if research done later shows that there is of course.

  7. I’m curious to know how it would come into contact with children – aren’t the hours of lapdancing clubs totally the opposite of schools. Surely the licensing conditions can be strict enough to stop such problems.And the mention of vulnerable adults – how will they be affected?I don’t think there’s anyone that wouldn’t want local people to be involved in having a say about where they appear – yet no one answers my questions.What particular threats are there to kids, schools or vulnerable young people? Perhaps a music club would be better – but how?

  8. I wholeheartedly support the campaign and her analysis about local schools appearing in close proximity. In light of local concerns, the council should begin a detailed consultation with local residents, particularly in Crouch End, about how we should proceed on this issue. There is a large number of residents and people from across the political divide in Haringey who are opposed to the establishment of a lap dancing club.

  9. People seem to have some very confused attitudes on this issue. There’s an undercurrent of vague disapproval but very few are actually able to articulate why, or what to do about it. I live in this constituency but to me it sounds like nimbyism. Ask yourself this: if you’re not against these establishments per se, where is it OK to open one? A street where you don’t live? A street that was never very nice in the first place? Let’s keep this debate honest – if we were all so open-minded and selfless as we’d like to think, we probably wouldn’t be having it in the first place.

  10. I agree with most of the others.No one seems to be giving any reasons or evidence as to why such establishments are a problem. Decisions should be made based on facts and evidence – not on hearsay innuendo and just because some people don’t like the industry itself.I’d suggest that the ringleaders of the campaign against the Lap dancing club are just anti sex more than anything else and just want to ban lap dancing completely.Of course that doesn’t’ necessarily mean this particular venue would be a good addition to the area, but still needs baring in mind.

  11. I think the council should do what is in the best interest of local people, thus seek their views on the proposed plan for a lap dancing establishment. The council could, from the responses received, be able to determine whether it is in the public interest to establish a lap dancing club in our community. This includes including representatives involved in the lap dancing industry. I am still unsure as to whether the council is already subjecting this issue to any type of detailed scrutiny?

  12. This is about what sort of community residents want Crouch End to be, and what sort of people are likely to be attracted by lap-dancing clubs or other aspects of the sex industry. I certainly don’t want Crouch End to become an attraction for stag nights and the like. I don’t really believe that the venue would be popular among local people. There are more useful things we could have in the area, a venue for the arts and culture, rather than the sex industry. Incidentally, I think it is lap-dancing clubs that are heteronoramtive and sex-negative. i don’t think lap-dancing clubs foster positive attitudes towards women.

  13. This quote from Hornsey & Crouch End Journal leaps out: "She cited central London's Tottenham Court Road as an example, where rape cases leaped by 50 per cent after a new club was opened, adding that rape was three times more likely to happen in areas surrounding these venues."

  14. Paul you seem to have completely missed the point – that quote is what everyone here is complssining sbout, It is totally discreditaed research and you can take the same data for a different year to show that opening lap dancing clubs reduces rapes by 50%It is particularly concerning that an MP believes such nonsense and reufuses to speak out against bogus research.

  15. Anonymous – obviously there are lies, damned lies and statstics, and I don’t actually know what the source for that particular figure is. However, it is a hotly contested issue whether the sex industry either ‘contains’ or provokes potentially dangerous men and I don’t think anyone is in a position to say for definite one way or the other. Bearing that in mind, the question surely is whether we want to risk turning Crouch End into an area that attracts stag nights and other packs of men with disrespectful attitudes towards women, presumably drinking heavily and being titilated in an environment that fosters crass, exploitative attitudes towards women and sex. Aren’t these men more likely to come out of the club wound up and therefore more likely to harass or pester girls and women they see in the vicinity or in Crouch End’s bars, etc? Do these venues encourage healthy attitudes towards women? Aren’t the sort of men that frequent these places likely to be those that are predisposed towards negative or aggressive attitudes towards women and sex?Don’t get me wrong, I have no gripe with the women that take up this kind of employment, and I don’t begrudge them an income, but I think there are wider social concerns here.

  16. Yes all statistcs have problems to some extent.But if you only hand pick statics from certain years and certain places than suit your argument and totally ignore the true picture, then that's when there are real problems.On top of that – if the research is funded by man hating feminists who want to close down all lap dancing venues regardless of the location it really shouldn't be trusted. You can pretty much prove anything if you're the one paying for the research.And that isn't me exaggerating – he is one of the final lines from the Lilth report which those stats come from:"Of course it would be wonderful if strip clubs could be eradicated tomorrow. Until that occurs it is clear that the licensing rules as they are need to change"Source:http://209.85.229.132/search?q=cache:mlCwS-ni4CoJ:www.eaves4women.co.uk/Lilith_Project/Documents/Reports/Lilith_report_lap_dancing_striptease_camden.pdf+camden+lap-dancing+lilith&cd=1&hl=en&ct=clnk&gl=uk

  17. That quote does not justify your claim about “man hating”. Your use of the word “hating” without any evidence says to me that you are the one who is doing the hating.

  18. well for a start their slogan is “putting women first” that’s sexism and discrimination before they’ve even started.And I’d also say that wanting to throw men into prison for 3 years if they posses: “Any material which features naked women for the sole purpose of sexual gratification (and therefore not, for example, for educational or anatomical purposes” easily fits the description of man hating.Either that or insanity.

  19. Anyway do we yet have any reasons why it shouldn’t be situated near a school or a place for vulnerable young adults.Just asking.

  20. Saying there shouldn’t be such clubs in areas where they might make (some) women getting off buses late at night uncomfortable is as near as banning as makes no odds.

  21. You are wrong Hywel. The site is right next to a bus stop. Most business units are not right next to a bus stop. I am against it being next to the bus stop. That does not mean there are no business units where it would be ok.It is the same with the late night noise issue. The location is right next to residential housing. I think it is wrong to have something on the site that will have lots of late night noise. That does not mean I think all businesses, anywhere, should be banned if they have late night noise.On your logic no-one can ever be against a late night license because that must mean they secretly want to ban all late night licenses. That is just not true.I also think other commenters do not appreciate how offensive a lap dancing club is for many people. That does not mean ban them all. But I think it is a shame there seems to be so little attempt to understand that offense and deal with it, such as by having a sensible location rather than this one.It is not “liberal” to say I do not care what you think, or you must be secretly want to ban something even if you have said the opposite.

  22. I think some posters are imagining that lap dancing is just another form of entertainment, and are wilfully overlooking the exploitative nature of it, and the sexist/chauvinist/misogynist attitudes the sex industry fosters. There is also the dubious question of where lap-dancing ends and actual ‘sex encounter’ establishments, i.e. prostitution, begins. The sex industry brings with it issues like trafficking, especially in london where female sex workers are increasingly trafficked and coerced into the industry. Again, though, I come back to my original point. What concerns me most is the attitude towards women that is encouraged by the mainstreaming of pornography and the values of porn, and the kind of men that will be attracted to the area by the venue. As far as some self-styled censorship group defending the sex industry, they clearly don’t even understand what the word censorship means. It would be censoring the views of the community if we weren’t listened to regarding this club; no ideas or views are being suppressed. This is a business that the community doesn’t want – that’s the whole point of democracy; the community should decide.

  23. I don’t think anyone here is naive about what goes on in lapdancing clubs – licensing isn’t about banning things due to them being offensive it’s a quasi-legal process that should show no fear or favour with the idea that it takes into account these sensibilities by containment (ie conditions).For instance there are hundreds of sex shops that are dealt with by license applications and indeed are the most stringently licensed establishments in the country. What about bars and clubs – I used to live above shops in Southwark right next to a club – once I went out to buy something at 1am and had to step over blood on the street with a man standing there who’d been beaten up.I would much rather of had a lapdancing club than this club.The other question to raise is what do you think in a recession would be built? Unless you can find a cafe/bar owner, art gallery, music club (too much rock?), housing (all these would seem more palatable than a lapdancing club) but in a recession you might find yourself with a derelict site when you could have an lapdancing club that will be stringently controlled by licensing.Unless you want it to be derelict for years?

  24. But the government has already stated that grants are to be given to artists and cultural groups to utilise any derelict spaces anyway, in order to avoid 1980s style ghost towns. Hazel Blears announced that this week. I would far rather have an exhibition space, or a flourishing arts-based group, than East European sex workers entertaining packs of Nuts ans Zoo readers, especially as those men are then going to spill out into the streets of Crouch End at closing time. There’s a difference between a civilised pub or bar -which can be the hub of a community – and a sex encounter venue, in terms of the effect it has on residents. We have lots of young women that hang around the clocktower and library, and in front of the old town hall in the evenings, as I’m sure you know, and I don’t think they deserve to be exposed to verbal or other harassment from packs of morons on stag weekends, etc.

  25. “There’s a difference between a civilised pub or bar -which can be the hub of a community – and a sex encounter venue, in terms of the effect it has on residents.”When bar licenses start including requirements to be “civilised”, rather than a regular source of drunken louts, you might have a point that is relevant. Until then, you don’t.“We have lots of young women that hang around the clocktower and library, and in front of the old town hall in the evenings, as I’m sure you know, and I don’t think they deserve to be exposed to verbal or other harassment from packs of morons on stag weekends, etc.”Morons on stag weekends are usually found near bars. Still not much of a point here.

  26. Exactly – there doesn’t seem to be an different sort of an impact than from bars – in fact I’d imagine such venues cause less trouble than a lot of bars.Also I find it HUGELY offensive how Lynne and everyone involved in the campaign goes on about the safety of women, when in reality it is almost always young men who get violently attacked in the street.(and after than older men too). Women are way, way down the list of those violently assaulted and it is completely wrong to pretend they are always the victims and create hysteria when if you look at the facts it’s men who need to be worried – whether it is a lapdancing venue or any pub or bar or anywhere else.Of course the government is equally guilty in this area but it is still insulting to all those male victims of violence whoever is spreading these myths. I have a friend who has serious brain damage as a result of a completely unprovoked violent assault outside a bar by a stranger (of course it goes without saying that’s said friend isn’t female).

  27. We’re talking about Crouch End here, which to my knowledge does not experience problems with ‘drunken louts’. When is the last time you encountered drunken louts in the Crouch end area? This isn’t Leicester Square! We are not talking about a venue that will provide a convivial atmosphere for members of the community to socialise; we are talking about a sex encounter venue which will draw in groups of men who have come to the area specifically for the lap-dancing club. That brings certain connotations with it, and draws a very specific clientle. That is the area of concern.Young men are both most likely to be perpetrators and victims of violent crime, of course. But what i am talking about is sexual harassment of local young women fuelled by the experience of some testosterone-fuelled night out; I can’t see why other types of crime would increase as a result of a lap-dancing venue. The wider issue here is about what sorts of attitudes towards women and sex such establishments encourage. There always seem to be two opposing theories about the sex industry – one states that it provides an outlet for social and sexual inadequates and therefore makes them less likely to engage in harassment or sxual crime; the other that it provokes and encourages it. There are reasonable arguments on both sides. In some ways, however, that is besides the point regarding this one specific venue we are discussing. It’s about what we want to see in our local community and what we don’t. What exactly do you imagine a lap-dancing club will bring to the people of Crouch End?

  28. It’s interesting how a common assumption running through a lot of comments is that a lap-dancing club will attract a lot of undesirable (read: not middle class) people from outside of Crouch End.Is it too much to contemplate that perhaps the market for lap-dancing might be local residents? In fact you probably have to be relatively affluent to afford to go to a lap-dancing club.Crouch End isn’t exactly a transport hub so I don’t buy the idea that this is going to attract stag parties, And if the market was really men from Wood Green/Tottenham/other less well-to-do areas surely it would make more sense for the owners to simply open a club there.I’m not personally that keen to see this opened, but I don’t think pretending that it would only be visited by ‘outsiders’ moves the debate forward at all. Frankly it’s just a bit snobbish.

  29. I’m not middle-class, and neither are most people, in Crouch End or anywhere else. My main concern was actually the potential nightmare of City boys and middle-aged businessmen, as well as stag parties etc, coming in to the area and creating an anti-social atmosphere, specifically in regard to harassment or worse of young women in the area. City boys and their ilk are far more thuggish and moronic in their behaviour than any ‘gangstas’ from Tottenham could ever be.

  30. LynneThank you for your support for the Crouch End campaign, which, I am growing ever more confident as we develop an ever longer list of points in opposition, will succeed in having the application refused.I have read your note and I understand your motives, but I struggle with some of the logic.For example, you seem to present the new regulations as a way of empowering local communities. I don’t believe it is , but rather a different way of empowering the Lap Dancing Association to apply for licences. I am currently a member of the Crouch End community which is opposing this application and my experience is that far from being empowered, I am enfeebled. At a time when we in Crouch End should be reading bed time stories to our children, or helping with their homework, or training for the marathon, or coaching the athletics team, or whatever, we are instead spending our time and intellectual efforts wondering if there is a good reason to have the application turned down, and if so how to present it to the council. Or if there might be a clause in a lease, or a restrictive covenant from a hundred years ago which would prevent it. Or if another letter to the local paper might make a difference. Researching all this is not empowerment, it is just a sheer bloody slog. The bill you should be supporting would prevent us ever having to consider this possibility again by banning these places. That would truly empower us to carry on with our everyday lives. Knowing that a council might opt in or out, and set the upper limit for such clubs at zero or higher simply means that we would forever need to be vigilant, and then determined to resist repeated applications. I don’t fancy it.You also say there is a time and place. I’m wondering just where that place is. It is not in Crouch End, not even in the middle of the town centre, in place of All Bar One for example. It is not in Muswell Hill. Our campaign has lots of support from Muswell Hill. I believe it is not immediately opposite the Civic Centre In Wood Green. Nor next to the WhiteHall Theatre near where you work, I think. I believe the City of London has decided not to allow such places at all, so there are a lot in Hackney, just to the East of the city. But, there are more people, I’d wager, in Hackney, who do not want such places than there are those who do. Most of the residents of Newquay don’t seem to think that there is the place. So I’m afraid I don’t agree with you on that point either. And why should there be a time and place for a quasi-legal set of overbearing (mainly) male “entrepreneurs” to employ vulnerable young women on an extremely disadvantageous basis in a degrading and risky form of activity. There is neither a time nor a place.You also, very misleadingly I think, refer to “the same license as the rest of the sex trade”. This puzzles me. Where does a pimp go to get a licence, or a prostitute, or a kerb crawler, or a girl who squirms in front of a web cam for money? Do the pornographers who flood the internet with their product have licences? My education is clearly lacking in this respect – or perhaps what the proposed bill is doing is actually validating the “sex encounter” as a modern, taxable form of commerce, i.e. not taking a step forward but a huge retrograde step for human dignity? The only sex trade licences I can find are for sex shops and sex cinemas, in both cases the goods are inanimate objects, there is no suggestion that these tightly controlled outlets can sell sexual encounters with real live people. I think you are either guilty of, or being gulled by, the old political con trick of passing a law so abysmal (the 2003 Licensing Act) that any change to it, however misguided, seems like an improvement. I am not taken in.I really think you should withdraw your support for this bill, or pass an amendment which bans lap dancing.RegardsAdrian Essex

  31. Quite a revelaing post from Adrian which confirms many peopel’ suspicions.Many of the people opposing this development aren’t against it because of the location – in reality they want to ban all lap dancing venues completely regardless of how appropriate the location might or might not be.I don’t frequent such establishments but I’d certainly defend anyone’s right to set one up and any employee’s right to work in there.There’s a worrying coalition of anti-sex religious conservatives and extremist anti-male feminists both joining forces to stamp out anything sex related – be it magazines, pornography or lap dancing.The Uk is supposed to be a free country – if they’re so against such things they should live in a country where censorship is welcomed and sex is viewed as something terrible – Saudi Arabia perhaps?

  32. I don’t know Adrian, but I very much doubt he is a religious conservative, and given that he and I are both men, you’re wasting your time accusing us of misandry. It is in fact the pro-sex industry brigade that are social conservatives. The sex industry reinforces every sexist, chauvinistic, puerile, infantile and misogynistic attitude towards women, promoting a dumbed down culture of young women from deprived backgrounds taking their clothes off (and more) for the titilation of men who believe they have the right to own and control women because they have the money and the power. I imagine the House of Saud would heartily approve! The relationship of the user of the sex industry and the young women that work in it is one of power – men buy power over women they could not attain in normal sexual relations. Do lap-dancing clubs, brothels and the like encourage healthy, emancipated, equalitarian attitudes towards sex and gender? You don’t have to be Andrea Dworkin to realise that the sex industry exploits young, working-class, often foreign (sometimes trafficked), women.

  33. Pingback: Crouch End lap-dancing application rejected | Lynne Featherstone MP