Portsmouth public asked: Do you want an end to strip clubs?

Portsmouth Guildhall. Photo: Malcolm Wells

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PORTSMOUTH residents will be asked whether they want to see a ban on more strip clubs opening in the city.

The city council is reviewing its licensing policy which could block new lapdancing venues if they are deemed to be too close to residential areas or schools.

Members of the Solent Feminist Network protest outside lapdance club Wiggle in Surrey Street, Portsmouth

Members of the Solent Feminist Network protest outside lapdance club Wiggle in Surrey Street, Portsmouth

There are three strip clubs in Portsmouth – Elegance on Waverley Road, Southsea, Heaven Sent on Guildhall Walk and Wiggle on Surrey Street, which opened last October.

The council is set to open public consultation into the divisive issue in the coming weeks.

It follows similar licensing reviews in London, Manchester, Bournemouth and Brighton.

Former Lord Mayor of Portsmouth Cllr Terry Hall, who is Lib Dem councillor for Eastney ward, wants stricter licensing for strip clubs, some of which offer fully nude lapdances for as little as £20.

Masonic Hall, Spalding'Cheque presentation to Butterfly Hospice'Names: Robert Clark, John Fitzgerald, Retail Manager at the Butterfly Hospice Sue Alexander and Terry Hall

Masonic Hall, Spalding'Cheque presentation to Butterfly Hospice'Names: Robert Clark, John Fitzgerald, Retail Manager at the Butterfly Hospice Sue Alexander and Terry Hall

She said: ‘There’s a new policy going out to public consultation shortly which would stop new sexual entertainment clubs opening in areas we deem to be inappropriate.

‘I believe each ward in this city should not have these venues – it’s such a densely populated city with so many churches and schools that it’s just inappropriate.

‘My hope is we will see no more sexual entertainment venues opening in the city and I hope at some stage we can see a reduction in the number of these premises that are already open in the city.

‘They do not create a good image for young women.

‘We are busy trying to get young girls in the city into good employment and places like this are sexually exploitative and run purely for profit.’

Becky Gardner and fellow member of Solent Feminists Network have held protests in recent months outside Wiggle with placards calling the adult industry sexist and exploitative.

She said she ‘wouldn’t feel safe walking past one of these clubs at night on my own’.

But Paul Ojla, who opened Elegance in 2000 and also owns Wiggle, said there was nothing to worry about.

He said: ‘There’s no exploitation of the women at all.

‘They come to us freely of their own choice and we advertise for dancers.

‘The dancers know exactly what they can and can’t do and the gentlemen are not allowed to touch the women.

‘We’ve never had any complaints. Elegance has been running for 12 years and the police have had no problems with the business.

‘Everybody has the right to protest but the people who say we are exploiting women are wrong.

‘If anything, it’s the dancers who are exploiting the customers because they look at the men as £20 notes.

‘I’m concerned about possible licensing changes but I hope the city council uses common sense.’

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