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…