Limit to be set for number of lapdancing clubs

Elegance in Granada Road, Southsea
Elegance in Granada Road, Southsea
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STRIP clubs could be banned from Portsmouth, under new regulations being drawn up by the city council.

Councillors want to limit the number of ‘sexual entertainment venues’ – lap dancing and strip bars – allowed in each ward of the city. And the limit could be set at zero per ward, effectively a blanket ban for Portsmouth.

Heaven Sent in Guildhall Walk, Portsmouth

Heaven Sent in Guildhall Walk, Portsmouth

Lib Dem Councillor Terry Hall has led the campaign to see a limit introduced.

She explained: ‘I’m not the sort of person who wants to ban things like nude beaches, art or books.

‘But these clubs give a bad message to the young people of this city about how women can be treated. They send the wrong message to visitors about our city. I’m very concerned that these clubs, probably not deliberately, appear to foster in a mindset that leads to domestic violence.’

The city’s licensing department will use new government powers which means it can refuse to allow strip clubs to open because of the character of an area.

Previously, it has had to use normal licensing laws, including rules on noise and disorder, to consider sexual entertainment licence applications.

It won’t be able to apply the rule to the city as a whole, but it can set a limit in each of the council’s 14 wards, meaning if the limit is zero in each, no clubs will be allowed. Charlie Dacke, a member of the Solent Feminist Network, said: ‘It’s vital to make sure women in this city feel safe. They don’t now, walking close to these clubs. They encourage an unacceptable view of women. I hope a zero cap is set.’

Portsmouth has two strip clubs – Elegance, on Southsea’s Granada Road and Heaven Sent, on Guildhall Walk. For Your Eyes Only has been given permission to open a strip club at the site of the former Mint Casino in Guildhall Walk. And a fourth club, Wiggle, will open at Surrey Street, Landport, on Friday.

All four must apply for new licences when the new policy comes in, and could lose the right to trade when they do. Glenn Nicie, operations director of For Your Eyes Only, said: ‘We accept a club in a residential area is unlikely to be suitable, but we deny our clubs cause the kind of problems some people say we do. We’re responsibly run, and follow the rules set. We hope we will be allowed to continue trading in Portsmouth.’