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…

2,000 sign petition against lap dancing club location

Handed in the LapOff petition this morning with local campaigners and Dave Winskill (Lib Dem Crouch End councillor). Over 2,000 signatures against the siting of this lap dancing club plonk in the middle of local shopping high street.

Considering these were only collected in a two week period – amazing groundswell of local people. No – not nimbies – just a reasonable view that sex-encounter establishments need to be sited more sensitively than an ordinary pub or club. The law is changing to recognise this as we speak. The problem is the current application is under the old law where location was not a primary reason to object. However, there are so many good reasons for refusing both planning and licensing applications – I am hopeful that the submission we handed in today together with such a powerful petition will hold sway at the hearing on the 10th of September.

Crouch End lap dancing application returns

I had hoped that the applicants for a lap dancing club in the middle of Crouch End would take the hint – that local people didn’t want them there and that they would disappear forever with their tail between their legs.

The message from the campaign was quite clear: lap off! But they haven’t. They’re back!

So – the Lib Dems are pushing for there to be wide, wide consultation on this new application and for the views of residents to be heard loud and clear.

Indeed, the original application was withdrawn in the spring after really fierce local opposition from residents with their ‘Lapoff!’ campaign, helped by local Liberal Democrats.

Cllr Dave Winskill (Crouch End) has requested that Haringey Council organise a public planning forum to give local residents a real chance to raise their concerns about this fresh application.

We don’t know if Haringey will agree to that – but in the meantime we have until the end of June to object. The final planning decision is likely to be taken by 30th July. The Music Palace (which is the location) has to get both planning and licensing to be allowed to run their lap dance club.

Residents can comment on the application by going to the Haringey website and entering reference: HGY/2009/0953, or by contacting me on or 020 8340 5459.

For more about the issues around the site of the application – and why it isn’t suitable – see my earlier YouTube clip:

A story with a happy ending: the KFC banners in Crouch End

Here’s my latest piece for our of our local magazines (the Crouch End Flyer):

A story with a happy ending – shock horror! Without being overly twee – and not necessarily being always on the side of conservation per se (as to me it kind of depends what you are conserving) – I do believe that the appearances of Crouch End Broadway is definitely worth preserving and conserving – which means sometimes taking up the cudgels in its defence!

Let me explain. Crouch End Broadway is in a conservation area. But Haringey Council has introduced contracts to display adverts on banners hanging from our lampposts as well as a plethora of self-promotional council propaganda on same.

Kentucky Fried Chicken (KFC) availed themselves of this advertising opportunity and took out a contract with Haringey Council to display their banners in Crouch End. But they were – let us say – ugly, noticeable and then some. Basically they stuck out like a sore thumb – and so Councillor Dave Winskill (Liberal Democrat, Crouch End ward) and I launched a two-pronged attack on the garish KFC banners.

I’ve nothing against Kentucky Fried Chicken – other than its calorie count! – but the banners streaming (or should I say screaming) loudly in the middle of a conservation area were out of place in Crouch End.

First shot at Haringey Council brought complete intransigence from Labour over their removal. Pleas to Haringey to remove the banners fell on deaf ears with officials citing binding contracts as the reason they couldn’t be removed.

So I wrote to KFC’s UK Managing Director to request that they take action to ensure the withdrawal of the ad campaign.

As the ante was upped with questions asked at council meetings, Haringey Council finally took its fingers out of its ears and took action to end the contract and the banners were removed. That’s when politics works!

Now we need Haringey Council to make sure that future contracts only allow appropriate advertising sensitive to any local area they are placed in. – and that means in some areas, no advertising at all on lamp posts. As ever, one of the keys to sensible policy making is making sure policies aren’t just splattered across the whole borough (“Adverts? Put them everywhere!”) but that local circumstances are taken into account. But for the moment – success!

Spurs Foundation

Visited Spurs Foundation yesterday with Lib Dem colleagues: councillors Robert Gorrie, David Winskill and Rachel Alison, plus David Schmitz who is our prospective parliamentary candidate for Tottenham.

We were looking at the work the foundation is doing in terms of encouraging learning, sports opportunities for children with disabilities, and generally discussing how and what needed doing in terms of integration between the west and east of Haringey.

Spurs have moved a long, long way since the days when they were totally resistant to putting back anything into the local community and over the last several years have come on in leaps and bounds with 65 projects now running in Haringey and Enfield (and a couple in Waltham Forrest).

So – nice to establish closer relationship between Spurs and the Lib Dem council group so that we can work together to ensure that Spurs doesn’t only hear Labour voices in future.

Brian Paddick on the campaign trail in Haringey

Lynne Featherstone, Brian Paddick and Monica Whyte promote a green alternative to plastic bagsBrian Paddick came to Hornsey & Wood Green and we visited a number of hotspots. The area is becoming a bit of a regular haunt of his – he was here during the Highgate by-election too. This time I showed him Wood Green cross – which is the area that local residents in the Wood Green area are most worried about crime wise. There stands a disused and vacant and deteriorating police box. Originally conceived and procured to ease peoples’ fears by having police on the spot – it never really opened for enough hours for anyone to have the slightest confidence that there would be a police person in the box. So it failed. Such a stupid waste for what was a good idea.

We went to Alexandra Park station (Oyster needed / on the way); Ally Pally – to show Brian the historic building which Labour Haringey first built up a debt (for which we locals had to pay) and then tried to sell on in a highly controversial deal – stopped at the moment by a local group taking Labour Haringey to court; then off to the 603 bus route in Muswell Hill where Brian pledged to extend the operating hours of this much loved route.

In Crouch End he promoted the Crouch End Traders ‘Bag for Life’ and posed in front of the Clock Tower whilst he did various interviews with the local press. He tried to squeeze in Weston Park Post Office – but in the end Monica Whyte (GLA candidate and local councillor) and David Winskill (local councillor) went there to meet a disabled lady whose life will be ruined if Labour’s proposed Post Office closures go ahead.

And I went to visit Bonnie – living with husband, two children and sister in two rooms in terrible state – but more of this story in a while. I am on the warpath for this one.

Haringey Labour remove free leisure passes for the over 65s

Campaigning to keep Haringey's free leisure passes for pensioners with Cllr David WinskillWent to Park Road Pools to launch a petition to reverse Haringey Labour’s ridiculous decision to remove the free passes for leisure for the over 65s.

You can sign the petition online at

I did a photo op with Crouch End councillor David Winskill, and two older ladies who are incandescent (as are the three hundred who attended a meeting at Tottenham Leisure Centre last week) about Haringey Labour’s budget cut of £52,000 removing the free passes that our elderly residents currently have.

This is nuts. It’s a small sum compared to the huge Labour waste, and yet the activity, social engagement and exercise that these older residents get from using their passes to go to classes or swim or whatever is a wonderfully productive investment – not to mention the enjoyment it brings – as it helps people keep fit and happy and socialised.

My Liberal Democrat colleagues identified £3million waste in the Haringey Council budget last week. Cut that waste – not the leisure passes!

In other local news – I met the minister to put the case for fair funding of Haringey’s schools, as reported over on my website.

Hornsey Central Hospital

Steve Lynne Featherstone teamed up with Lib Dem Shadow Health Secrtary Steve Webb and local councillor Richard Wilson to highlight local concerns over the Hornsey Central Hospital siteWebb, LibDem Shadow Health Secretary came to Hornsey & Wood Green yesterday to meet with myself, Lib Dem colleagues and three local residents who are all massively concerned and upset about Hornsey Central Hospital – or more accurately, the lack of anything tangible in its place since it was closed nearly six years ago.

There is a bid being worked up to apply for some government funding from the cottage/community hospital funding the Government is making available to support its rhetoric around wanting more community facilities – though in reality it is doing more about concentrating its funding on acute/secondary care.

I and my colleagues are looking into what the bid will comprise and hope that we will hear more detail at the public meeting being held on the 13th September at 18:00 at the Methodist Church Hall, Middle Lane. (See here for a map).

We are determined to campaign for good facilities. We have been waiting like good children for the promises made in 2000 to be delivered – but no more Mr Nice Guys. We have all worked with the Trust at every stage – but each time it has come to naught. We believe that its Chair, Richard Sumray is committed to providing these much needed health facilities in the west of the Borough. He says he is. We know how difficult the budget process has been and the Government’s push for commissioning private services. But actions speak louder than Labour rhetoric – and we have waited long enough!

We (me plus councillors Richard Wilson and David Winskill) took Steve Webb to Hornsey Hospital and met with some local health campaigners to discuss the best way to take forward the campaign for Hornsey Hospital and the wider issues around the effect of the serious cuts Haringey’s Trust faces. The cuts have already led less sexual health clinics and reductions in rehabilitation beds for older people.

So let’s see what happens on the 13th. Hopefully Richard Sumray will say it’s all going ahead just as local people were promised…

And in the meantime, don’t forget – you can see our film on the issue:

Worse than having a baby

Continue to wrestle with final rewrite of edits on my chapter for forthcoming Centre Forum book Britain after Blair. It’s worse than having a baby!

Today’s emergency is the granting of planning permission to a backland site in Crouch End. Local residents, local Cllr Dave Winskill, myself and others have long campaigned against this sort of cramming development that does nothing to add to our social housing stock and everything to add to developers’ profits. However, I get a desperate email from the residents’ group to telephone them to try and get the permission certificate stopped on the basis of the proper procedures not being followed when the Planning Committee considered the application.

The residents , angry at the conduct of the meeting, want me to get the Chief Executive to delay the Permission Certificate pending an inquiry into whether these transgressions have gone as far as to open Haringey Council up to judicial review. I suspect they have and that there are grounds for judicial review. I agree with the residents. To my mind it would simply be much better to refer the decision back to Planning Committee to consider properly under proper procedures before having to go through such a lengthy and probably costly process. I make my request to Dr Donovan (Haringey CE) who promises me she is looking into it and will get back to me.