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News - 13 April 2007

Are Brighton’s strip clubs getting out of control?

Councillors are to consider promoting a Private Bill through Parliament to press for stricter controls to regulate strip clubs in Brighton & Hove. Fears have been sparked by the recent increase in the number of applications for strip clubs and pole dancing venues.

Members of Brighton & Hove City Council’s licensing committee will discuss the possibility and the implications of putting forward a bill at a meeting on April 19.

Last month councillors passed a resolution at a full council meeting to lobby the Minister for Culture, Media and Sport to extend tighter controls on strip clubs. London currently benefits from these tighter controls and it is proposed that they are extended to the rest of the country.

At present nude and semi-nude performances are held in law to be 'performance of dance' and the licensing committee has no powers to turn applications down merely on the grounds of nudity.

As a result a recent application for a strip club went ahead, despite the reservations of councillors.

A report to members of the committee says that with tighter controls, like those operating in London, councillors would have greater powers to turn down applications if they considered the number of strip clubs already operating in the specified area to besufficient, or that granting a licence to operate would be inappropriate due to the character of the area.

Last year an application by Rocco Mana for a strip club in East Street was turned down by the city council’s licensing panel, following objections from the police and local residents. However the decision was overturned on appeal by magistrates.

Tim Nichols, Head of Environmental Health and Licensing at Brighton & Hove City Council, said, “Brighton & Hove has a reputation for creative and innovative entertainment and freedom, but as the law currently stands locally elected councillors have no powers to control the proliferation of strip clubs and the consequential effect they have on the character of neighbourhoods.

“There is concern about growing pressure from operators looking to open fully nude strip and pole dancing clubs in the city and the committee will be considering a Private Bill as a possible option to give councillors greater local powers to determine applications.”

If the committee favours the idea of a Private Bill, the matter will still have to go before the city council’s policy and resources committee and full council for a final decision.

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