Saturday, May 12, 2012

Solent Feminist Network SEV Consultation Response - Charlie Dacke Cannot Spell

The Solent Feminist Network made their submission to Portsmouth Councils SEV Consultation in January of this year. What you can see above is the covering letter. As you can see Charlie Dackes signature has been redacted, as has for some reason what may have been a logo at the top right hand side of the letter.

I don't know about you, but if I was preparing an important submission of evidence, I would at least make sure that the covering letter was free of spelling errors, but this seems to be beyond Charlie Dacke and her pals at  SFN.

I thought it would be interesting to have a look at their submission and comment on the highlights. Expect nothing earth shattering as there is nothing there that essentially couldn't have been lifted from Objects website....

Well, I couldn't find Part 1, which deals with the Solent Feminist Network 'as a consultee', which means that they either forgot to enclose it or there is something there that Portsmouth Council do not want us to see..

This section is misleading. It creates that impression that all anyone had to do was walk into any Licensing Department and ten minutes later they could open a lap dancing club. As Bill Martland wrote......

This is simply untrue. Unless they serve refreshments after 11pm coffee shops don't even need a licence. Lap dancing clubs on the other hand are covered by the Licensing Act 2003. The Act introduced one type of licence to replace the previously required 6 forms of generic licence. This change was implemented specifically to introduce more effective controls on premises' licensable activities via local authorities' new power to impose individually tailored permissions. Since the implementation of the Act, over 170,000 individually tailored permissions have been implemented on licensed premises, with conditions appropriate to the risk and nature of the business being applied.

Those applying for 'regulated entertainment' under their premises licence are subject to rigorous scrutiny and a public consultation process. Indeed, premises must also tick Box N on the licence application to state their intention of offering entertainment of an adult nature. Premises licences are tailored to the activities that will be offered by each venue, using a clearly defined operating schedule. This sets out how lap dancing clubs will comply with the 4 objectives of the Licensing Act.

Solent then go onto talk about how hard it is for local residents and concerned local authorities to prevent clubs from springing up everywhere. Its another lie as Bill Martland wrote in response to a similar allegation....

This again is simply untrue. Concerns about need or whether a new club is appropriate for a local community are, first and foremost, considered under the local planning regime. Local authorities have almost unbounded discretion to grant or reject an application. In considering planning permissions, they also have the ability to adopt local plans setting out policies in respect of certain types of licensed premises, including lap dancing clubs. Additionally, nightclubs are categorised a 'sui generis' under the Use Classes Order in planning legislation. This ensures that any operator wishing to turn their premises into a nightclub must undergo a fully consultative planning permission process. Obtaining planning permission is by far the biggest hurdle operators face when opening a new lap dancing club. Many applications are flatly refused at planning stage.

In addition, the Licensing Act 2003 introduced a right for residents to oppose an application, complain about an existing operator and call for a review of a licence. Contrary to what is claimed by the Fawcett Society, this right is not restricted to those living within 100m of an outlet. The Act does not define any vicinity; residents need only demonstrate that they are affected by an application or outlet. Local residents are able to object to any application on the grounds that it does not meet one or more of the four licensing objectives. Local authorities can only take such objections into account. It is not in the local authorities' power to refuse an application on the grounds of subjective moral objections.

This was a very significant change from the previous 1964 Act. A single objection can halt a licence application in its tracks and a single complaint can lead to the revocation of the licence. By way of example, in a recent case in Durham, a Council ignored objections from local residents and theMagistrates Court reversed their decision, showing how effective and influential local complaints can be.

The reality is that planning and licensing restrictions give local authorities and local communities full powers of consultation, complaint and control.

Who found the 'high levels of sexual and financial exploitation' in lapdancing clubs? Where is the reference for this assertion? Maybe we'll see something later.... 

Its so cool to see Chas Dacke lecturing the Council on Gender Equality and how unlawful harassment of women is wrong, especially when it was the Solent Feminist Network that made a habit of standing outside clubs screaming and shouting at anyone that went inside them...

Ahhh, now we see where they are getting their 'lapdancing horror' evidence from....its The Holsopple Report. I have to say that what SFN have written and attributed to Holsopple is accurate, however what Chas Dacke omits is that Holsopple is a 20 year old study of clubs in America and has no relevance to Portsmouth in 2012.

I think the thing about Philip Kolvin QC that they should be mindful of is that he successfully represented Urban Tiger in Bristol and ensured they got their licence to trade...

I only included this so that you can see how poorly the whole document was presented. Quite frankly I would be embarrassed to submit something so amateurish. It looks to me like the Solent Feminist Networks submission was put together in about half an hour and treats the Council with contempt as it lectures them about their duties to society and gender equality.

That said, there is only one reason that I could imagine that something as shoddy as this was submitted and that is because SFN think that the 'Nil Cap' is a done deal.

In summary, the arguments are poorly thought out, fail to address the issues adequately, were largely lifted from Object and as a result cannot be taken seriously by Portsmouth Council. If this ends up court and Portsmouth hold this submission up as the basis of their Nil Cap decision, they will be laughed out of court and somewhat poorer as a result...


  1. Hmmm the letter is dated the 12th Jan 2011 received 13th Jan 2011 (hand delivered?) Now that would have been for the application in 2011 and cannot be used for 2012 if it had been considered for a previous application. If the council use it that would give more ammunition for appeal against any decision.

    The whole document is a poor effort, what would Anna say?

  2. "It looks to me like the Solent Feminist Networks submission was put together in about half an hour..." - from an Object template, to judge by the content and format. And it STILL manages to look thrown together!