Tower Hamlets Council launched their public consultation into the future of lap dancing and strip clubs on 5th September and it closed on 17th October 2011. Since this time, no result has been made public although we did hear about the councils appointment of a 'forensic data analyst' to examine the returns and ensure things
On November 29th 2011, there was a meeting of the council where perhaps unsurprisingly the issue of lapdancing clubs was raised. A concerned member of the public asked the question and naturally it was answered by Rania Khan....
Its good to see how Rania manages to squeeze in the fact that she was deeply involved right from the very beginning and we also see that she confirms that there are no suitable locations for clubs in the borough. Interesting that she also says that the council plans to implement a 'nil policy both going forward and retroactively'.
What can she mean by that? Either she going to be the next Dr Who or she is talking about an ex post facto application of the law, which if I gather correctly is somewhat frowned upon in the United Kingdom. As I have always said, I am no lawyer so I do not quite understand what advantage there may be in retroactively applying the legislation in Tower Hamlets. Clearly someone, somewhere has been whispering in her ear and we can only sit back and watch how much it costs the council in legal fees.
Later in the same meeting, the Labour Group also staked their moral credibility with this item and it is once again really interesting....
Read the second item under 'This Council notes.....' again please....
'......That in the Independant Mayors (Lutfur Rahman) introduction to the consultation on Sex Establishments, he says that "legislation does not allow a ban on sex establishments on moral or equalities reasons".......'
So if I read this correctly, the council are reminded that to implement a 'Nil Policy' on the basis of equality issues is legally dubious and therefore unlikely to succeed. So if that's the case, why, under 'This Council believes' do we see the following....
Point One - '.......the campaign for this legislation was clearly driven by a gender equality campaign.......'
So what are the Labour Group saying? That Lutfur's desire to close the clubs is right, but his reason for doing so is wrong? Or are they saying he is completely wrong?
Point Two - '.......place a responsibility on us to promote equality between women and men. The operation of sex establishments is clearly gendered.......'
Well in Tower Hamlets it is. There are clubs that have women stripping and there is one club that has men stripping as well. Are they saying they want more clubs with male strippers or are they laying the ground for banning everything?
Point Three - '....that sex establishments are only a symptom of a structural gender inequality in our society....'
And its Tower Hamlets Councils responsibility to put it right? Are they legally empowered to do so?
Point Four - '.......any sex establishment in any area will have an impact on women.........'
What impact? Furthermore, if Tower Hamlets Council were genuinely worried about the impact of clubs on women, why did they permit a bus stop to be placed outside The Nags Head?
It gets better under 'This Council resolves', where apparently the entire Council resolved that every club is going to be closed as an expression of their commitment to gender equality. But that might not stand up in court. This could also be problematic if they allow The White Swan to continue their Wednesday night amateur gay strip session. Mind you, it could also be problematic if they stop the amateur night as well, because then they would be open to all sorts of accusations of homophobia.
The final resolution is the best, where the Council states its commitment to projects that support women exiting the sex industry (I hope they don't mean The Living Project) and furthermore their desire to tackle 'causes and symptoms of gender inequality such as domestic violence, sexual abuse and body image'.
With what do they plan to tackle these issues, I really hope they don't need any cash because Tower Hamlets are fast running out of it. Especially with what they must have been reserving against any court challenges from club owners...
I sense from the minutes of this meeting a massive amount of internal conflict and juvenile point scoring between Labour and Independent Councillors and as a result the Council seem unable to present a lucid and coherent argument in support of their (almost certainly doomed) attempt to close every club in Tower Hamlets.
Do you notice that Object seem to be taking a back seat here, which implies that Tower Hamlets is almost too crazy even for them to become too deeply involved.
There is apparently a meeting of the Licensing Sub Committee on 27th March 2012 and I cannot imagine what they are going to come out with, but I will let you know as soon as I find out.