Tory pledge to help locals oppose lap-dancing clubs

The Conservative Party has promised to give local communities more power to oppose licence applications from lap-dancing clubs if they are elected to government.

The party’s Shadow Minister for Women, Theresa May MP, said that local councils would be allowed to stop clubs from opening if residents were unhappy.

Academic research shows that lap-dancing clubs are linked to increased levels of sexual violence in the surrounding area, and can be used by human traffickers to groom victims for prostitution.

The 2003 Licensing Act grouped lap-dancing clubs with pubs and coffee shops, allowing scant opportunity for locals to object if one chose to open in their area. Since then, the number of clubs has doubled to 300.

The Labour Government’s Culture Minister, Gerry Sutcliffe, recently wrote to local councils to ask how effectively the law was working in their areas.

Labour MP for the City of Durham, Roberta Blackman-Woods, has made an attempt to see applications for the clubs regulated more tightly.

But it is thought there will be insufficient time for her Ten Minute Rule Bill to be successful.

Launching a three-month consultation to see how the situation could be improved, Mrs May said that a Conservative government would “empower councils to take account of local opinion.”

“Local communities should be able to decide whether it is appropriate for lap dancing clubs to operate in their area,” she said.

“Councils are currently unable to block lap-dancing clubs opening even if they are overwhelmingly opposed by local residents.”