Council approves new policy

COUNCILLORS have unanimously agreed new powers to give Hartlepool Borough Council greater control on lap dancing and strip clubs.

Under the new powers, existing clubs need to apply for a sex entertainment venue (SEV) licence within the next 12 months or face closure

The powers, which state that SEV licences last for 12 months but can be revoked, have been introduced via the Policing and Crime Act 2009.

Categories covered by the new controls include; lap dancing, pole dancing, table dancing, strip shows, peep shows and live sex shows.

The new licensing powers, which give greater control over where clubs open, were agreed at a recent meeting of the full council.

A venue will be exempt from needing a licence if entertainment of a “sexual nature” takes place no more than 11 times in any 12-month period and are at least one month apart.

Under the legislation, Hartlepool’s only lap dancing club, Little Black Book, in Whitby Street, would require a new licence.

In a report to the full council, officers said there have been no particular problems with crime or disorder at the premises, which are “well run” and bosses have previously said they will be applying for the new licence.

Lap dancing clubs were previously in the same category as cafes and bars, meaning they could be stopped from opening only if they attract crime, are a nuisance or endanger the public.

Licences can be refused if the applicant is under 18, a non-UK residence or there has been a previous refusal at the premises.

Officers say adopting the policy gives the local authority more transparency, consistency in decisions and greater control.

The full council approved plans to delegate the responsibility of giving licences to the licensing committee.