Sunday, April 2, 2017

Words and Meanings

Firstly yes it has been a long time since anyone put brain power into the blog but there is a good reason. I am sure Chasmal will be filling us with his wit  at some point but basically the original issue this blog was created to combat has disappeared, I am sure there will be something else to fight and we are still keeping our eyes on councils to make sure the crazies don't get away with changing things without someone noticing. Certainly been watching consultations and hopefully I will get information that I can write about in the near future.

However right now I want to raise issues with the language many councils use in their formal documentation about clubs, the policies and guidelines that to be honest a lot of people would TL:DR (too long didn't read) and guessing most people would read the executive summary and the conclusion which leads to a very misleading interpretation for people would just glance at the documents rather than check each and every point. So what are the things that are bugging me so badly that it could actually inspire me to write something? It comes down to the wording in the definition of SEV which is in every single policy document councils produce.

Every single policy document that I have read (which covers nearly all of England and Wales) mentions Live Sex Shows. Now I have been going to venues for the best part of 30 years and in that time I have to say I have not seen anything that could be classified as such for the last 20 years. Even back then it was rare to see anything naughty at any venue apart from odd Sundays. Now I am sure that stag events would be much more along those lines but when we are talking about licensed venues I don't see how it is possible to have something you could describe as a live sex show and maintain the council policies. In the guidelines for clubs it clearly states in every policy document dancers should in no way allow any penetration or stimulation of the dancer's genitalia. And yes the language the council uses clearly forbids any form of sex show so why would they put it in the description of SEVs?

So I am sure everyone can guess exactly the other issue I have with the policy documents. Yes every single policy document mentions Lap Dancing... and every single policy guideline for dancers forbids contact between customer and dancer. Now unless there is a new definition of lap dancing that I haven't heard then it has been 14 years or so since any form of private dance could be classified as a lap dance. So we have two very strong and totally inaccurate descriptions of SEVs that every reader of policy would see at the outset, but it takes someone who is willing to read pages of councilese to realise that, in fact, the description in no way reflects what happens at clubs.

Now as to why that particular wording is used I am not sure but I do feel that it does automatically creates a belief about what happens in clubs that is in fact a fantasy. Yet it is a fantasy the councils seem to want perpetuate, perhaps to cover anything they miss but in my mind they use the wording to create a negative view of the clubs in a deliberate way. Now it may just be one or two councils that used the wording and it has been copied but I struggle to see how any councillor can approve a policy that is NOT a reflection of the reality of the club. In the future it will be a point I raise about any license or policy that a council produces which does not reflect the reality. If you are going to put the word lap dancing in a policy document and then ban it the council needs to make it clear at the outset as those people who fight against  the clubs have images in their heads that do not relate to reality. And yes they have probably never been in a club so they truly have no idea of what happens.

Now I don't answer as fast as I use to but if you have anything you want investigated obviously you can post it here or you can e-mail me. There will be no writing without something we feel is necesssary to at least discuss.

TonyN (tonyprince@acdcfan.com)

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

This Is The End....

Yes it's true. 
It was the 6th January 2012 that I published the first post on this blog and we see that 5 years and 5 days later that ObjectNow Ltd has been dissolved. I don't want to post a rambling retrospective, but there is one thing that I do wish to highlight. The first posting attracted a first comment, which you can see below.


I never found out who who wrote the above comment, but it defines why I started this blog. 

For a while, Object had a free rein and were never challenged, but then people started to question their objectives and fight back. The first serious resistance they encountered was the from the dancers of Shoreditch who protested outside Hackney Town Hall when the Council proposed a 'Nil Policy' which would have lead to the closure of 5 clubs. As we know this was Objects first failure. It should be noted that they failed to get a 'Nil Policy' in Tower Hamlets as well. In fact the word 'Failure' and 'Object' became almost synonymous. Actually, that's an unfair comment because there was one area where Object were very effective - fundraising.

Looking back, it is hard to work put exactly how much funding they received but it was almost certainly a low to middling 6 figure sum. The Joseph Rowntree Reform Trust were big supporters. Do you remember the £50k Object were granted for some kind of 'exit programme' for dancers? I don't think there were any takers and I always wondered what happened to the money... There was however one donation they received that was never repeated and for the first time I can reveal that I might have had something to do with it...

About 4 years ago I received an email from someone who was interested to learn more about the Object campaign because they felt it was unfair and basically very wrong. I agreed to a telephone conversation and in the interim, tried to learn more about who this person was. I was delighted to discover that her father was a trustee in a charity that made a donation to Object. So a few days later, we spoke on the telephone and I can say that this person was horrified about what Object were getting up to.

"Where do they get their money from"? She asked.

"Well, they got £**,*** from your father". I replied.

"Sorry?" She said after a brief silence.

I told her about the donation that had been made, what is was for and how much and....

"I need to look into this". She said. 

I never heard from her again and I am fairly sure that Object never heard from that foundation again either.

Any other stories I didn't mention before? None that I can tell you without asking for trouble. For example I certainly cannot tell you about the now senior member of the ****** Party that happily accepted a ******** ******** from a club owner only to try their best a few years later to get the the very same club closed. I cannot say who the person in question is, but they like ******* ***** and was described to me as having '**** ****-**** ****'.

We were very respectful to Object and its members. We could easily have blogged about the Object member that **** her ********** in the **** ***** over her late ******* ****. It was in the ***** **** and I noted that she has a very nice ***** that cost a lot of money and was expecting a lot more in return if her **** had been ******. But sadly it *****.

What ever happened to Rania Khan?  I was glad to have stitched her up to Andrew Gilligan.

With all of that money, you would think Object would have been more successful. This blog however was successful and we take partial credit for fighting Object to a standstill because we believe in what we are doing. It was never about the money, although a couple of club owners did make donations in recognition for what we did and they were gratefully received. Not that I got a lot but I did have very nice night out in Leeds as I recall.

So with Object gone, who else is out there? Well Sasha Rakoff tried a reinvention under the name 'NotBuyingIt' and if I recall correctly even pulled in just over £45K from Joseph Rowntree for what amounts to a hastily laid out blog with a few links. The problem for 'NotBuyingIt' is that no one is, so I don't think we need worry about it for the time being.

A successful future for the club scene is now really dependent on the way the clubs are run. It's the same for any business, professional and courteous staff, nice premises and strict adherence to licensing conditions will mean clubs will remain open and viable businesses.

TonyN and I will continue to run this blog, something will come up that merits our attention at some point, but I want the blog to be an archive, a memory of what we all fought for and who we fought against. 

I really haven't got much more to say apart from thank you for visiting (I note that as of today we are at 199,256 page views so I guess before the month is out we will hit 200,000) and I wish you the very best for 2017.

Chasmal







Wednesday, September 14, 2016

There Had To Be At Least One

I will be honest, it has been nice and quiet for a while with little things brewing outside. But after Chasmal did his piece on the farewell to the White Horse in Shoreditch and the wonderful send off that ELSC did for the closing I was hoping that the world would settle back to market forces deciding if councils let clubs open rather than the prudishness of the council. But today I write about three levels of idiocy, even worse we look at what certain councils are doing including misleading the public.

So we have seen the FoI for York and we know that 50% is not the number of people against all clubs but on York Press they quote 50%! Not sure which but when you factor in the 25% of respondents objected on moral grounds you get an impression. What the council has done has elected to do is take 81 of 329 total respondents and call it 50% because one of the questions was a yes/no. In fact the overall figures 55% disagreed with the statement "it would not be acceptable to have lap dancing clubs in York". Only 39% actually agreed with that statement and many did so on moral grounds. I have commented on the article that someone is deliberately misleading someone either the council misleading the press or the press misleading the public.

Next we move onto the withdrawing of the application of the license for Villa Mercedes. I have read everything that was sent out by the council including an apparent questionnaire from SRASAC the Rape support people. Now I support the work they do, like any decent man (or pervert for the trolls out there) I believe with every fibre of my being Rape is wrong. But they only put forward answers that support their point of view. How many people did they ask? Was it before or after the session? In what way did they avoid coaching when they ask the question? Of course the Local MP is busy claiming credit for the withdrawal of the application but considering the club didn't rally any support and there was a lot of opposition especially from SRASAC the writing was on the wall. The MP had one of her staff involved and there was a lot of quoting that SEVs create misogyny and contributed to sexual abuse in Rotheram. I have yet to see the empirical data that shows a causal effect but we mustn't let facts blind us.

Finally good old Bournemouth have started a consultation that finishes on the 30th September. Having taken a glance there seems to be a common theme like Leeds and York in wording the consultation to try and get an end result that they want. The link to the council site from which you can get to the consultation is here . I am sure those in and around the area will want to write in and protect the clubs or will complete the survey. To be honest I think a lot of people will not even get their heads round how the questions are structured and what the answers mean.

TonyN (tonyprince@acdcfan.com)

Saturday, July 30, 2016

So Farewell Then...

Going........going........gone.
As I write this post, it's almost 10.00am and The White Horse is gearing up for it's last day of trading. I have to say that I never imagined that I would open a blog post with that line, but here we are....

The Horse has been a cornerstone of the Shoreditch strip scene for 38 years and as I must have mentioned before, it was the very first strip venue that I visited. Can't remember the year, but it was in the early 90s and pubs were still closing a 3.00 til 5.00. Throughout this time, the place has remained consistently one of best run venues that I have ever visited. But it was also far more than a strip venue, it was meeting place for an interesting bunch of regulars from all walks of life that got together and discussed the issues of the day or anything else that crossed their minds.

Regulars are what a makes a pub and they come and go, some return after a few months, some never come back at all, but for the current bunch, well... some will move to Browns or The Horns but for some others, the closure of this pub means a change too far and they will seen no more.

We also have to consider those most directly affected by the closure, that is the dancers and the bar staff and we wish them the very best of luck in their search for a new place to work.

The reason for the closure is the same that faces many leaseholders in Shoreditch. Freeholders are squeezing their tenants with vast rent increases with a view to making as much as they can out of the floorspace they own and this is what happened here. The White Horse was hit with a 400% rent increase and the owner, Sue Bristow made a business like decision. But most importantly Sue made sure everyone knew well in advance of the last day of trading.

So on this last day we have about 30 dancers performing from about 1.00pm onwards and the roster includes many that have worked their in the past and it promises to be quite a party. The final dance will be performed by one of their most popular and long standing girls and will take place early Sunday morning and then, after a few last rounds, The White Horse will be no more...

What will become of the place? I have heard loads of rumours, but the most credible is that it is going to turned into some kind of pizza restaurant, which will be amazing and I look forward to what it will be next year and how it will change the year after that.

I did my last visit yesterday afternoon, I wanted to be there on the last regular day and I had a good time, said goodbye to the bar staff and some of the regulars and for me, that is enough. I read somewhere that rather than be sad that something has passed, it is better to glad that it existed and that sums up how I feel.

So, to Sue, the bar staff and the dancers, I wish you the best of luck and thank you for 25 years of great times and good memories that will never fade.

Chasmal

Thursday, July 7, 2016

York and The Numbers are finally In (plus a little bit more)

Before I start just to say the reason why I haven't written more is there wasn't anything that really needed to be highlighted. Just so happens that I got a google alert, a reply to a FoI request and saw something on my facebook wall all within the same 24 hours so it sort of inspired me to write. I have seen a couple of online paper reports of licenses being granted even though 4 people and a dog have complained and the council received one valid objection (okay maybe not the dog). So here we go with my first for a while and more will depend on the google alerts outstanding FoIs and some research.

So this is a three piece article. Firstly I want to talk about the situation at York, as we know we had a consultation that hasn't been put in front of the committee and from my last piece we know that the view was more in favour of the clubs than against. I have now received answers to my follow up questions and want to highlight a couple of points.

So 78 people objected using such language that it was on moral grounds. So 25% of people are objecting on moral grounds which as we know would not be acceptable if the language was used in objections to a license application or renewal. I certainly see many people would want to discount these answers on the grounds morals should not come into the discussion. Secondly just under 10% of respondents objected to the structure of the consultation which does highlight the fact the language and structure need to be looked at for any consultations. We have seen the situation where Leeds used a structure and this appears to have been copied on more than one occasion now.

I found a google alert in my inbox about an application for a new SEV in Sheffield that would be called Villa Mercedes. Standard blah blah in the local on line paper which reads like it has been copy and pasted and only the names have been changed. However one thing caught my eye is a group called ZeroOption4Sheffield who are campaigning for no clubs in Sheffield which would mean the closing of Spearmint Rhino along with blocking the SEV application. As per usual the thinking for your readers with a template letter is on their blog and they do try to link clubs with child sexual exploitation from the macho culture. This is from no actual research just the belief of a senior policeman who is being quoted. Sort of reminds me of another Policeman saying things about clubs without any facts, unfortunately I cannot think of a way of proving or disproving these beliefs so when challenging that sort of comment I would just try to make people aware it is not a fact just a personal belief.

I have noted on twitter that ZO4S as I will call them have reached out to a few people and the template has probably drawn from other older templates. I find it amazing any group can feel they have the right to attack others in their work because of their moral system. Still the consultation for Villa Mercedes is open till August 2nd and if you want to comment I would suggest you write to Licensingservice@sheffield.gov.uk and anyone who has read this blog for any length of time will know the various arguments. And of course there is the implication that Spearmint Rhino scares women and changes their behaviour. How true this is I am not sure but given the research of Professor Phil Hubbard I doubt the truth of the claim. So I would ask anyone who Lives, Works or may do business in the area to write in... I would say it a third time but think my audience is savvy another to only need two nudges

Finally there is a new video from channel 4 featuring the East London Strippers Collective and you sort of wonder why the groups against clubs don't speak to dancers first but just make moral judgements. Anyway if you want to watch it click here this web episode is well worth a watch especially those campaigners who are against clubs and claim to speak for the dancers. Now go speak to the people whose lives you are trying to ruin (NSFW probably unless you own the company).

TonyN
tonyprince@acdcfan.com

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

York Consultation, Nothing to Report Here

So last year we had a consultation for York City Council on SEVs and the right number for York. No results were published and nothing was discussed at any of the council meetings. So I sent in a FoI request for a copy of the results and having looked at them I sort of understand the issues that faced the council and why  they have left the results on the back burner. I am happy that a couple of issues are clearly identified from the report and I think these are key to the reason that the council has not gone forward with the report and it is something to remember for all future consultations.

First and probably most importantly the first question asked to what extent do you agree it would NOT be acceptable for a lap dancing club to operate in and then lists several locations. The one thing that stuck out though was the last one was Not in any locality, which is styled after the Leeds second SEV consultation. Approximately 32% of respondents strongly agreed with that statement whilst 48% were strongly against. There was a smattering across the agree/neutral/disagree but it was clear just from this question there was not going to be an overwhelming support for closing clubs. I had posted on bulletin boards for the local football clubs to discuss the consultation amongst other things and especially how the questions were styled after Leeds council which shaped its questions to try and close venues. This is important as it will come up later in the piece.

The fact that there is no majority at the outset obviously makes any attempt to reduce numbers or enforce a nil policy almost impossible, we therefore can expect this report to be buried because the council is likely to keep things as they are. There is no strong push for any change and the fact people were prepared from what happened in Leeds, I hope, shows the positive impact blogs and individuals can have in protecting the industry.

Question 2 asked open questions so people could write comments to locating SEVs and what comes out is people have been commenting on the structure and wording of the question. It becomes a message throughout the comment sections on all the questions. Certainly the questions were structured like the second Leeds consultation and I think once people had the issues explained common sense took hold. Certainly Sunday league football bulletin boards are a good place to recruit support and it is a good place to get people over excited about councils using questions to shape the end result. Leeds has taught us a lesson and it is one I will continue to point out when consultations come out but I do need people to let me know if they hear of any as I am only human.

Now the reverse of people questioning the structure and wording of the questions was the fact that some people amongst those against the clubs were putting moral objections. We were not informed of the percentage of respondents who use morals as a reason to object to clubs but as the report was not put before the committee it is likely to matter, however if the report was to go to the committee you would expect the members to have to disregard all the respondents who who morals as a basis for their objections to the clubs. I intend to raise another FoI so I can get the number of respondents who used moral arguments because it would be interesting to understand the impact to those against the clubs if you removed the moral objections. Also I would love to know how many people raised the issue of the structure of the questions, 37 people said they would look at the questions and comment if they felt it needed to be commented on. Would be nice to know how many actually did.

One thing that seemed to be missing from the report is question 5. Not sure why this was missed but I will be adding it to my FoI request as a follow up. Of course as soon as I get the updates I will let people know.

TonyN (tonyprince@acdcfan.com)

Sunday, May 8, 2016

Let's Hear it for Mayor Marvin

So Marvin Rees the good christian politician has won the Mayoral race in Bristol for Labour, so now we need to see if what he said on International Women's Day was a soundbite of if he really does intend to try and make people unemployed because of his moral stance. Esme Worrell debated with Marvin on BBC Radio Bristol and then she then met up with him over coffee for a 1 on 1 chat. She produced this video as it seems Marvin has not followed up on a promise to stay in contact with Esme. Please watch the video and listen carefully.



Now you will note that I have suggested that Marvin is acting from a moral point of view rather than a conclusion based on empirical data. We have seen Eaves withdraw Lilith before they shut down and Inspector Drummond make comments on Newquay that were based on an opinion rather than fact because the opinion was proved to be wrong.

Marvin, let us point out to you that we claim no causation between the presence of clubs and the fall of rape figures. However the review conducted by Camden concluded that that there was no causal link between clubs and crime. We also saw that incidences of rape in Newquay reduced after the introduction of SEVs. Nor will we claim causation with the increase in rape with the closure of the SEV in Wandsworth over the same period as Camden. Is there a correlation? 3 figures suggest something but I would never claim them to be causation, I am never as arrogant as people with a point to prove that cherry pick data to fit their beliefs.

So Marvin, you haven't followed up on your discussion with Esme. I saw cherry picked figures and data by Bristol feminists using figures for the Police crime impact zone which contains nightclubs, bars, restaurants as well as SEVs which were used to make a point. Yet applying the metrics to all 254 clubs in 2011 we saw that 80% of venues were not causing issues in comparison to night clubs and pubs. Those that did have high figures all were based in the areas of local night time economy and it would be difficult to assign blame to the clubs, this is noticeable in the club license renewals when the police could shut down a nuisance venue which has happened. Some clubs may have problems associated with them but the vast majority have no links to any violence, no matter what so people might "claim". So Marvin you have had an opportunity to review the data and possibly change your mind, I sense however that your christian morals will be driving you down a certain track of opinion but remember clubs cannot be judged on moral grounds. So are you going to let your personal beliefs decide a political aspect of the governance of Bristol?

We would assume that Bristol would need to go to a consultation but given how such exercises Tower Hamlets, Hackney and even Leeds have unfolded, the supporters of the clubs have learned to become active. So if we do get an imperial edict from Mayor Marvin flexing his muscles, everyone will realise that he doesn't account for data, only his moral viewpoint. Marvin could read Leeds University research about dancers and their satisfaction with work or the collaboration of Kent and Loughborough on sexscapes and the impact of SEVs on local environments. Not everything is perfect but you would expect a Labour politician would support workers and encourage unionisation via Equity and GMB. But given Mr Rees strong religious convictions we suspect he doesn't want to see any data unless it backs his view of the world.

All we want is a level playing field and people not to apply their morals to everyone else. Now go follow Esme and East London Strippers Collective and show them the support of clubs, customers and other dancers because if we back down once we will see people impose their morals on us.

Marvin, one final point. In the midst of Tower Hamlets campaign to close every club in the borough, dancers organised and held a public forum, which was covered by the blog here. The keynote speaker at this event was someone called John McDonnel, a person who I feel you may be familiar with. John made the following observations...

"It is Johns view that the current prohibitionist campaign was not an intended outcome of the legislation and that was happening was, in his words ‘mad’. He expressed the view that the entire situation was clearly about one group imposing their morality on another and that people needed to accept that a city offers a range of things for a range of people."

John also made this comment as well and Marvin, I strongly recommend you read this carefully, so as to avoid any embarrassment later...

"Perhaps most importantly, John stated clearly that if Tower Hamlets council attempted to push through the ‘Nil Policy’, he will raise the matter in Parliament, possibly in the format of an early day motion."

Sadiq Khan has just been elected Mayor of London with the expressed intention of being a Mayor for all Londoners. Marvin, you are now Mayor of Bristol, so why not follow the example of Mayor Khan?


Esme twitter @esmeforeal and Instagram @cerebralslut.

ELSC http://www.ethicalstripper.com/ twitter @ethicalstripper


TonyN (tonyprince@acdcfan.com