Crouch End lap-dancing application rejected

Thank goodness! Councillors turned down the lap-dancing club application in Crouch End. It’s been a very long and hard fought campaign – so congratulations to Alison Lillystone and all of the local people who worked so hard to present such a brilliant case. My LibDem colleague Cllr Dave Winskill has been working with the campaign group every step of the way – and I have done whatever whenever I could to help.

The report says the applicants may go to the courts and appeal the decision – but I hope they don’t. The new laws coming into effect soon change the status of the license that lap-dancing clubs need. Currently they only need the same license as a club or pub – but under the new laws they are classified as ‘sex-encounter establishments’ and will need a different license – one in which the location plays an even stronger determinant than currently.

So – as they have lost at this point, the chances of them getting a license under the new laws are even less. And they may be considering trying to get in before the law change – but in the Commons I pushed the Minister to state quite clearly that even if they were to succeed and get a license now – they would still have to apply for a new license as soon as the laws come in.

In the end – this is about location. That has always been the point and the reason for upset for local people. This was just the wrong place.

Lap Off!

So – finally – the licensing meeting to decide the fate of the lap-dancing club application at the Music Palace in Tottenham Lane, Crouch End, happened last Thursday evening.

The gallery was packed, literally packed, with those who had come to support those objectors who were presenting their case to the licensing committee to try and get this application refused.

The Chair started by asking the applicant’s representative to distinguish between lap and table dancing – which in the end it transpired was not hugely different – other than lap dancing was direct to the client’s lap (sort of obvious) and table dancing was at a table.

And then to the presentations by objectors. First up Cllr Dave Winskill (LibDem) who gave the background to the campaign, described the location (and in the end it is the location that makes this application ungrantable – if that’s a word) and put the application in context of the high level strategies that are meant to guide councillors and officers in how to achieve the sort of borough we want for ourselves and our children.

Local parent Lindsay Wright, who lives a stones throw from the proposed site (and who is two weeks short of giving birth to a baby) gave the most brilliant rational for refusal around Haringey’s own licensing policy – and showed that the application would run a coach and horses through it. When the Council’s own licensing policy says that there is a duty to promote safety and wellbeing etc……… She also, despite the difficulty, described explicitly what lap-dancing was (unlike the applicant’s answer above) with precise detail about proximity and touching – too explicit for me to put on blog.

Four further objectors the addressed the key licensing objectives: avoidance of public nuisance, protection of children, prevention of crime and disorder – and told us about the effects that the granting of this license would have on their neighbourhood, their schools, their town centre and their children.

Then the Head of Hornsey Girls School gave a fluent and effective argument against granting the application for the well being and safety of the 1400 girls at Hornsey High – just around the corner.

This was not a moral crusade – but an outpouring of the real worries about the damage that the local community would suffer if this lap dancing club were to open its doors at that location. And that was the real point – the scale of opposition was all to do with the location – near six schools, two churches, Action for Kids (vulnerable people with learning difficulties), the YMCA and right, slap, bang in the middle of a normal shopping high street in a highly residential area.

The law itself is changing. Currently, a lap-dancing club only needs the same license as a pub or ordinary club. The new law, which has gone through parliament, and which will soon be enacted – changes that. Lap dancing clubs will be counted as ‘sex encounter establishments’ which is exactly what they are. And that new law has come about because of the particular trouble and disorder etc that occurs around such places.

However, even under the old law, together with Haringey’s strategies and licensing objectives – this application can easily be thrown out. Only four months earlier the same licensing committee refused an application from Bar 22 – a similar establishment – on the grounds of proximity to residential areas.

If the committee refused that application – then how much more reason they have to throw this one out too.

However, after two hours – the hearing was adjourned because there would not have been time for the applicant to present their case properly and take questions etc. So now we have to wait for the whole thing to be reconvened.

It was very disappointing because the presentations were so overwhelmingly forceful – I have no doubt that the committee would have rejected the application – and am not totally happy that the applicant (having heard all the residents’ arguments) will now have a few weeks to prepare before the next session. However – quite frankly – the arguments against were so strong it is hard to envisage what on earth the applicants would be able to say or do to make their case.

Well done to Alison Lillystone, whose Fairfield Road home backs onto the site, and to Lindsay and Carol and Stuart – and all who made such a brilliant case.

To be continued…

Lap dancing in Crouch End

Met on Saturday with the local campaigners from Crouch End who are motivated to take up arms against the application for a ‘gentlemen’s club’ (i.e. lap dancing) at the Music Palace – and after listening to them I don’t blame them.

As a liberal I don’t knee-jerk against the varying tastes and occupations of folk – unless they do harm to others. On this one I have to agree that the potential for harm, nuisance, noise and detrimental impact is high. Plonking such an establishment in a local buzzing busy high street means that it is not ‘out of the way’, it can’t be avoided and women, young girls and children will have to pass it – no choice. Whether or not is is true that men will emerge in a roused state – who knows – but if they do then that could have potential for danger and even if they don’t – women feel vulnerable in the near vicinity.

As to specific worries – well in the immediate area we have Hornsey School for Girls, Action for Kids (charity for vulnerable young people with learning disabilities), Rokesly Junior and Infants School and the YMCA. But even without these particularly vulnerable groups – there are issues for anyone made uncomfortable or concerned or even frightened to walk past. People shouldn’t have to feel intimidated or worried on their own high street.

There is a Bill (am finding out the details) on the licensing of lap-dancing clubs about to go through Parliament where it is widely rumoured that instead of only requiring a normal license – same as clubs and pubs – lap dancing clubs will become for the first time ‘sex encounter establishments’ which would require a different sort of license – same as the sex industry places. I expect that is why there is a shifty on to get licensed before the change in the law – so as the local MP I will be seeking to make any changes in the Bill retrospective too.

The campaigners want me to try and ensure there is a grandfather clause – so that it is not only new lap dancing clubs in the future that have to be licensed for sexual encounter – but that those already in existence (as this one will be if it gets its license) will have to apply for the new type of license which is much stricter on a number of fronts.

So – anyone interested in joining the campaign should contact me, stating you give me permission for me to pass on your name and email address to Alison Lillystone, who is leading the campaign group.

TEXACO PETROL STATION PLANNING APPEAL GOES AGAINST TEXACO

Lib Dem Crouch End Councillor David Winskill has been in touch with the organisers of Catrice, the residents’ campaign formed to fight a planning application on the site of the Texaco Petrol Station on Tottenham Lane. He has congratulated them for a well organised and hard fought campaign.

Commenting on the decision of the Inspector to dismiss the developer’s (Ridgewood Investments Ltd) appeal he said:

“Congratulations are due to Alison Lillystone and Ruth Selig – the Joans of Arc of Crouch End! They have fought relentlessly in a just cause and deserve this victory. The idea of a five-storey monstrosity obscuring a school’s sunlight and obstructing views of Ally Pally is despicable. I hope that this decision will encourage Haringey’s planners to be more robust in their future recommendations and take more account of the views of communities.

“No doubt Texaco will be back but I urge them to talk to the community before submitting plans and invest in some serious and committed community planning.

“There are still many campaigns against over-development to be fought and this victory will be an inspiration to other groups.”