Local communities will soon have greater powers to challenge the number and location of lap dancing clubs in their area. Home Office Minister Alan Campbell announced the new powers on Friday 12 February.
Where the new provisions are adopted, local people will for the first time be able to oppose an application for a lap dancing club on the basis that it would be inappropriate given the character of their local neighbourhood. From the 6 April 2010, local authorities will be able to require all lap dancing clubs in their area, including existing venues, to apply for a sex establishment licence if they want to continue to operate lawfully.
Home Office Minister Alan Campbell said, "Many people have told us they don't want a lap dancing club in their neighbourhood and feel that the existing legislation does not adequately take account of their concerns.
"From April these important reforms will give local authorities the powers they need to respond to the concerns of local people regarding the number and location of lap dancing clubs in their area."
Local authorities who adopt the new powers will also be able to impose a wider set of conditions on a licence and set a limit on the number of clubs they feel would be appropriate for a particular area.
Brighton's Labour opposition spokesperson for licensing, Cllr Jeane Lepper has said she will challenge the Conservative administation in charge of licensing in Brighton & Hove to make full use of the new powers given by the government.
Harriet Harman, Minister for Women and Equality, said, "If people don't want to have a sleazy lap dancing club in their neighbourhood, they shouldn't be forced to have one, which is why we're changing the law so local people can object and say 'we don't want this' in our area because it's a sex establishment."
The changes follow consultation with local authorities in 2008, which identified concerns regarding the way lap dancing clubs are regulated under the Licensing Act 2003.
Today the government published the results, and its response, to a consultation on the transitional arrangements being put in place to deal with existing lap dancing clubs moving to the new regime.
To give existing venues time to comply with the new regime there will be a period of 12 months from the day the new provisions come into force locally within which clubs must apply for a sex establishment licence
The new rules are expected to stem the tide of lap-dancing clubs in some suburban areas. The number across the country has more than doubled since 2004 to over 300.
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