Lap-dancers protest outside number 10

A group of lap-dancers has been protesting outside 10 Downing Street against a planned clampdown on lap-dancing clubs which would categorise them with sex shops.

They presented a petition against the plans signed by almost 3,000 lap-dancers.

They argue that their industry is legitimate, and that tightening up the rules by classifying lap-dancing clubs as “sex encounter establishments” would stigmatise the women who work in them.

But campaign groups like Object say the law should be tightened, and link lap-dancing clubs with increased levels of harassment against women and human trafficking.

Currently the clubs can open with the same type of licence required by pubs and cafes under the 2003 Licensing Act.

The Home Office recently announced that it would consider changing the rules to make it easier for local residents to object to licence applications in their area.

Women’s minister Harriet Harman today reiterated this commitment, calling on firms to sign a charter preventing employees from visiting strippers and lap-dancers on their expenses.

The campaign to clamp down on the clubs has the support of the Local Government Association (LGA).

The LGA’s deputy chairman, Richard Kemp, said: “The law as it stands does not allow councils to consider the type of entertainment being provided or any concerns about the impact it may have on surrounding homes and businesses.

“Parents’ concerns about their children, or neighbours’ concerns about links to prostitution and other crime, should not be ruled out on technical grounds.

“It’s a loophole which needs closing as soon as possible.

“Local democracy depends on people being able to voice their opinions, and on councils being able to consider those views.

“Our towns and cities should be shaped as far as possible according to residents’ wishes, not by the presence of unwanted lap dancing clubs in the heart of them.”