Sunday, December 15, 2013

Yet Another Round Up

Coming towards the end of the year so rounding up the craziness that is Xmas spirit by some councils. The attitude and timing of some of the actions seems an effort to kill Xmas business. Not sure why but hey thats what grinchy councils are there for.

La Salsa in Halifax is due its hearing tomorrow (16th) now it is interesting because the club opened in the same week and same street as WomenCentre Ltd back in 2002. All of a sudden after 11 years of operating now it seems there is a concern of exploitation and that the club could act as a deterrent. strange they have only just figure this out. Of course now that the clubs have the branding sexual entertainment venue it does create a picture that does bear any relation to reality. 3 public objections have been received 2 associated to the women centre, there does seem to be several bars and restaurants in the area so will be interesting to see if any police complaints are centred on the club.

As people have been expecting the clubs in Leeds have decided to fight, Deep Blue and Wildcats have both been given permission to trade while seeking a judicial review. There could end up being 3 of these and each could run up a bill of £1m per review. Time to feel very sorry for the Leeds public who will have to foot the bill given that the council is already talking of cutting services. Add to that the clubs will be trading when the tour de france starts there this is a big slap in the face for Reeves and Charlwood. No doubt the legal people will be looking at the links between the licensing committee and SAR. Just what has been said behind closed doors and why has this been hidden from the public? Should make a good book out of this.

Upstairs in York is due for it's first license renewal, York Feminist Network has go an online petition going. The use an Object banner and claim that the lobby group Object are in fact a human rights organisation. Once again there is a claim that clubs are linked to sexual violence but don't mention lilith. No matter how many times that zombie stat/woozle is killed it rears its ugly head at the next battle. Either none of these groups talk to each other or they just cannot admit their claims have no place in reality. Nearly all the meetings for the last 2 months of the licensing committee have been cancelled so it is hard to actually confirm what is going on. However I will start digging further into this. Nothing like a new group of people to check out and find out what they are up to. I was looking through the signatures for the petition and there is a Dr Grandhighpriest on there once I stopped laughing I started to wonder how many signatures are based in York and it appears that very few do. Still not even 20% towards their target so we can assume it is not going to amount to much.

Worcester will get it's club Black Cherry after all, Ash Patel had dropped plans to open one in a location called the Butts (must not make inane jokes) but dropped it as the location was an issue with a councillor who as we had previously pointed out had been misleading people into believing the objection was from the council. Well now he has taken over the old DNA nightclub which has most of the licenses in place. So looks like at least we will get one new club.

Newmarket's Heaven's Gentlemen's club had its license renewed even though the signage is a little bigger than it is suppose to be, considering that it is co-located with a night club with a really big sign I can see why the sign was allowed, also is is not one of those that would titillate the public. The local press has done the usual anger aspect of reporting even though only 3 objections were sent in. If people had a problem then they should use the established process and not just try and get their names in the paper.

Finally Flirtz in Nottingham renewed it's license in the face of no objections. However it still had to go before the committee. This does beg the question why? Surely if a legal business has no one objecting the license should be approved, if the police had issues it would have come up as an objection so no reason at all really for the meeting apart from councillors trying to look like they are doing something.

TonyN (tonyprince@acdcfan.com)

Monday, December 9, 2013

Leeds Council - If This Isn't A Conflict of Interest..........

Chasmal write again on the crazy situation in Leeds

On the first day of Christmas
Leeds Council gave to me:
The loss of my job and social insecurity.....

Well it's getting very interesting in Leeds. On the Yorkshire Evening Post, someone tried to draw a comparison between the clubs being axed and the recent closure of the local Remploy factory. The person that made the comparison was trying to say that the only reason that people were protesting against the Council with regard to the clubs was that they wanted them to stay open and if they were being genuine about things, they would have complained about the closure of the Remploy factory, which none of them did.

The two situations bear no comparison and the person making the comment is a fool, but nonetheless, they did give me an idea about presenting the situation in a different light....

I want you to imagine that within Leeds there are a number of gay clubs, all of which have been threatened with closure. One reason for this is that certain people within the Council believe that gay clubs lower the tone of the area and put families off from visiting the City. So the Council do a survey about the future of gay clubs and maybe their best location. One thing becomes clear and that is that it has been decided that there should be no gay clubs near the town hall, largely because what people imagine goes on inside them. The Council have a committee that will decide what to do about gay clubs as well and they are going to decide.

There is an issue however.....

One of the people on the committee has publicly stated her distaste for gay clubs and homosexuals and has been campaigning for years to have them chased out of town. Furthermore there are a number of religious organisations in the City that loudly campaign against gay clubs, in fact they have a report, published by a grossly homophobic organisation that states that incidences of male rape sky rocket in areas where there are gay clubs and that men fear walking down any street where there are gay clubs because they are terrified that they will be assaulted and bum raped.

The day of the big decision arrives and the Council decide to close three of the gay clubs, because they are in 'sensitive locations'. But what are sensitive locations though?

Well, obviously you cannot have gays near schools because, you know.....This is despite the fact that school closes at 4.00 and the clubs don't open until 11.00.

You can't have gay clubs near places of worship because as the Westboro Baptist Church state, 'God Hates Fags'.

You can't have gay clubs near a railway station because of........well, something or other but it can't be allowed to happen anyway.

You can't have a gay club near an art gallery because the gays might start hanging around outside or even try see some of the artworks.

Play areas are right out because, well you know what they say.......

Youth facilities ar the same, they must be protected from gay clubs....

Gay clubs near a cinema? No way, the last thing that cinema goers want to see after going to a movie is the gay cub opposite.

Places of celebration or commemoration? Forget it, the people celebrating or commemorating would be put off by what they imagine goes on inside a gay club and wouldn't feel able to celebrate or commemorate anything.

Retail shopping areas cannot have gay clubs near them just in case the gays do some window shopping after the shops have closed.

Historic buildings? Gay clubs play Jimmy Somerville records and his falsetto might damage the foundations of the town hall.

Sports facilities? Can't have gay clubs near sports facilities as the gays might try and peer into the gents changing rooms.

Banks. No way for anyone of a number of reasons, but actually no one bothered to ask the banks what they thought, they just decided to decide for them.

So as I said, three gay clubs are closed. The Council committee that decided to close them down was made up of five people, two of which were ardently homophobic so in the light of objectivity they pulled out so it left just three people to do the deed.

Just one problem...

One of the directors of the most vocal anti gay club organisation (the one that rejoiced about the closure of the three clubs and said 'three down, three to go') is Facebook friends of the chairman of the committee that decided to close the three gay clubs.

Now if this was reality, there would be uproar. In fact if any city council made a move against gay clubs on any grounds they would be finished by next week. But if the decision to close was made by a person with homophobic friends, the police would be knocking on their door tomorrow morning.

So whats the point of the story?

Well, Cllr Ghulam Hussain, Chair of the Licensing Committee for SEVs, the same one that decided to close Wildcats, Red Leopard and Deep Blue is Facebook friends with Miriam Leontine Moss, who is a director of SARSVL, the same organisation that campaigned against lapdancing clubs, the same organisation that were deliriously happy to see them closed and implied that this was just the beginning of the closures.

You see minorities are protected in this country and a good thing too because if they weren't, all sorts of arseholes would spend their waking moments thinking of ways to persecute them. Stripper aren't protected though. They can be blamed for anything and lets face it we all know what goes in those clubs don't we. wink wink. So they can be deprived of their income at a weeks notice, who cares, they're only strippers or 'gender traitors' as someone on Mumsnet once said.

Leeds City Council have, in concert with others behaved in a manner that is despicable and cowardly and will be held to account.

Oh before I forget.....

You should also realise that Deep Blue, one of the lap dancing clubs closed by Cllr Hussain, seems to be geographically close to the building used by SARSVL, one of whose directors is Miriam Leontine Moss, his Facebook friend...

Ps

If you want evidence, have a look at the frame grab below before Miriam changes it.....





Thursday, December 5, 2013

Leeds Council - An Absence of Common Decency

Chasmal has been writing about the issues in Leeds and here has the latest on the issues there.

December is a period that many bar owners look forward to. It's christmas party time and takings can soar, which is good because January is always a very quiet month. The same of course applies to lapdancing and strip clubs, the dancers have a great opportunity to earn well...........unless of course they work at a club in Leeds, specifically Deep Blue, Red Leopard and Wildcats. This is because Leeds Council Licensing Sub-Committee decided on 29th November not to renew the licenses of the clubs. The Council are demanding that the clubs should close on Friday 13th December at 4.00am in the morning. 

The Licensing Sub-Committee consists of Cllr Karen Bruce, a long time opponent of clubs, Cllr Ryk Downes, Cllr Ghulam Hussain, Cllr Ashgar Khan and Cllr Chris Townsley. They are of course ultimately answerable to Cllr Becca Charlwood, who in an article in The Yorkshire Post seemed keen to distance herself from direct involvment in the decision, despite glorying in the fact that the clubs are to be closed and that 200 people will lose their jobs three weeks before Christmas.

These people must hate dancers and the clubs they work for to an extent that I find quite frightening. If anyone in the Council that had even the remotest connection to this decision had even a shred of comment decency, they could have at least let the clubs run until the New Year, at least let the people who rely upon the venues for income to save some cash. But they didn't do that. In act what they did was worse. They decided which clubs would close on 29th November and then kept quiet about it for 5 days, saying only today (5th December) that the clubs could stay open for just over a week.

It's not of course just dancers that will be affected, the club has bar staff, cleaners, door people and administrative staff as well. All out of work after next friday, all out of work 12 days before Christmas, all facing uncertain futures, all because of a group of vindictive, self righteous moralists want to get their own way.
I found it amazing how Becca Charlwood strives to justify what has happened.

 “.....I’m very pleased that the committee have applied the policy of the council.....".

In other words Becca is expressing her delight that the security and futures of scores of families is now threatened because their main income was derived from something that Becca disapproves of.
“This policy change was created through public engagement and was heavily consulted upon".
Really. Do you mean the Leeds Citizens Panel? Where apparently 1092 people said there should be 4 or less clubs in Leeds? Do you mean the 25 boiler plate objections that referred to the Lilith Report?

“These were no doubt difficult decisions to make, but I think it is right to use the powers we have available to us as a council to help fulfill our ambition to be the best city in the UK for all our citizens and visitors.”
Sorry? '.....The best city in the UK for all our citizens....'. Becca has just made 200 of them redundant so its hard to see where she is coming from there, but it's interesting that she thinks it's 'right' that 200 people are going to lose their jobs.

I find it fascinating that the deliberations of the Licensing Sub Committee have been embargoed by the Council. So in other words we will never know what was said, or how they arrived at the decision to close three businesses that have never violated the terms of their licenses.

The owners of Wildcats and Red Leopard have stated publicly that they will take legal action against the Council. It is my sincerest hope that this materialises because if nothing else, court action will see some light shone on what I see to be a very murky set of decisions.

This is going to be a short article. I have others planned that will run all the way to Christmas. Now that Becca Charlwood has played her hand, we can respond and I ask readers of this article to consider something very important.

On July 18th of this year, I published on this blog an article that predicted that Red Leopard and Wildcats would be lined up for license refusal. How is it that I was correct?

Monday, November 25, 2013

Absolutely Not Corrupt and Nothing To Hide Either!!

It’s Chasmal here and its been a long while since my last post. Let’s face it, TonyN has been doing sterling job on the blog, but nonetheless, sometimes there are things that I read about that I think deserve some attention on the blog. The first of these is about an application to open a club in Worcester in an area called ‘The Butts’ – (not joking, it’s really called that). Business man Ash Patel had a plan to refurbish a grim and run down set of premises that at some time in the past had been a nightclub.

Then things got weird……

Worcester Council decided in 2009 to adopt The Police and Crime Act 2009, from which the current SEV framework sprang from. Well, they decided to adopt the powers, but by the time the next council meeting came around, it seems they forgot to do it and as a result, horror of horrors, Ash Patels proposal to turn a derelict eyesore into a lap dancing club could only have been considered under the prior legislation. In other words, had he pursued the application, he would have been preparing his club for a Christmas opening as you read this article.

Then it got weirder…..

The Chair of the Licensing Committee is Cllr Paul Denham. He has a wife, Cllr Lynn Denham who is the ward councillor for the area where Mr Patels club was going to be opened. Lynn was vehemently opposed to the club and had said so. Therefore hubbie Paul decided to pull out of the meeting to decide the future of Mr Patels club.

There was apparently masses of local outrage. In fact retired senior local government official and father-of-three Adam Scott expressed his horror….

“……I was appalled to see that there is an application for a pole dancing club being made on The Butts. It proposes being open for seven days a week, all night long, where men can go for sexual gratification…..”.

Outraged father of three Mr Scott also said…

“This is completely unsuitable in such a location that is used by many young people (near a library complex with a bar) and is right opposite the houses of Magdala Court. Whether you agree with the morality of such places or not, it’s something we don't want to see anywhere in the city centre and certainly not here.”

All of this can be found at this link (http://www.worcesternews.co.uk/news/10502757.print/) in an article published on 23rd June 2013.

But there is an issue here, because it turned out that Mr Scott was absolutely a ‘retired senior local government official and father-of-three’, but it what he is now that has relevance. Confused? Please read on…..

Cllr Lynn Denham was a very busy bee behind the scenes in the summer, because she had sent a letter to virtually everyone that lived in the ward that explained that she was fighting the proposal for a club in The Butts.

CONCERN: Councillor Lynn Denham was worried that the former Images nightclub could have become a lap dancing club.
The letter, written on paper with an official city council letterhead said she was being “helped” in her campaign by Adam Scott, a resident and it urged people to contact him if they shared her worries. The letter said that Mr Scott could “help residents draft letters” of objection and answer other questions.

What the letter did not say was that Mr Scott is a Labour party organiser and campaigner, as well as a former council candidate, having fought the St Peter’s seat at the county council elections in May.
Concerned citizen Mr Scott is also in line to stand again for Labour in next year’s city council elections in the Cathedral ward. Mr Scott is apparently widely touted as being Labour’s community organiser in the city centre.

What are the issues here?

Well both Lynn and Andy are members of the Labour Party and it is possible that to see an interesting combination of interests being served here. It could be argued that the mere fact that the letter was written on Council notepaper implies that the City is against, on principle, lapdancing clubs, which it is not because of the existence of due licensing process. I suppose if one has a fertile imagination, it is possible to conceive that maybe Lynn was told about the licensing screw up, decided to shake some action and build some opposition and remembered someone who lived in the ward…….

Ash Patel decided to withdraw his application to open a club in The Butts, but is still looking for suitable premises in Worcester. The total number of objections was 13, how many were inspired by Andy Scott, is unknown.

Cllr Lynn Denham is currently under investigation for her activities in this matter. She has expressed concern about a ‘smear campaign’ against her. No worries Lynn, no one needs to do that because you already smeared yourself….

Now let’s move north and return to Leeds. Lots and lots of things have been going on in Leeds in the past few months.

You may know that Black Diamond applied to extend its premises upwards. They were granted planning permission. The story is covered in detail by the outstandingly good blog, ‘The Leeds Citizen’.
The planning committee found no reason to deny the club its planned extension. In fact, they stated categorically that lap dancing clubs in Leeds city centre “rarely result in complaints of public nuisance”. They went onto say that “It is understood that music levels associated with such establishments are significantly lower than that of a typical city centre bar,”.

The police had no objection to the club at all….

Remember that Leeds is fighting to close clubs on the basis that they might affect children. Well the planning committee had something to say about that as well….

“The position of the building relative to the city centre attractions for young people is such that pedestrian footfall in this part of New Briggate is low,” the report says.

“Further, as the building’s windows are blanked out; no external reference to the nature of the use within the building are allowed; and given the proposed hours of use (between 9pm and 6am) it is not considered that it would be readily evident to children and young people what the premises was used for,”
The committee looked at the suitability of lap dancing clubs in general in Leeds..

“…………The premises are located within the Entertainment Quarter where UDPR policies seek to focus evening entertainment and associated uses. The nature of the use is an entertainment use opening during the night-time and consequently, in principle, the use reflects the type of use identified in the Development Plan…………”

Then the committee looked at the moral issue…..

”…… In principle, any consideration which relates to the use and development of land is capable of being a planning consideration, but whether it is in any given case will depend upon the particular circumstances. The courts are the arbiters of what constitutes a material consideration and have held that public opposition per se is not. In cases where fears or concerns are genuinely held by members of the public, these may constitute a material consideration but case law suggests that such fears would have to be shown to relate to material considerations, or be objectively justified or have land use consequences in their own right. Moral objections to developments, such as those involving gambling, drinking or sex, are given little weight in decision making unless there is some tangible land use or amenity impact deriving from such activities which can be shown……”

It’s an interesting paragraph. Almost seems to send a message to the Licensing Committee doesn’t it. Not that they took any notice of it because they denied its license application anyway, but it wasn’t a straightforward process.

The licensing hearing was set to take place on September 16th, but when the clubs representatives turned up they noticed that one of the panel was Cllr Karen Bruce, whose husband seems to spend his spare time campaigning against lap dancing clubs in Leeds. Mind you, Cllr Karen has been campaigning against them since 2008 and the Chair of the Licensing Committee, Becca Charlwood has made no secret of the fact that she wants to see them all closed.

Isn’t there some issue about conflict of interest or doesn’t Leeds Council see fit to follow it?
Now back to the present. The Licensing Committee meeting on the fate of the other 6 clubs was held last week. A decision will be announced within two weeks. Let’s take a look at the objections for Purple Door and see who made them and what they had to say….

Objection 1. ‘Anonymous’ – Quotes Lilith.
Objection 2. Kirklees Rape and Sexual Abuse Counseling Centre. – Quotes Lilith.
Objection 3. ‘Anonymous’ – writer refuses to go into Leeds town centre because of the clubs.
Objection 4. ‘Anonymous’ – Quotes Lilith.
Objection 5. ‘Anonymous’ – Quotes Lilith.
Objection 6. ‘Anonymous – Quotes Lilith.
Objection 7. RASAC South London – Quotes Lilith.
Objection 8. ‘Anonymous’ – Says very little.
Objection 9. ‘Anonymous’ – Quotes Lilith.
Objection 10. ‘Anonymous’ Quotes Lilith.
Objection 11. ‘Justice for Women’ – Sensible enough not to quote Lilith.
Objection 12. ‘Anonymous’ – Doesn’t quote Lilith but has great map that explains why every club should be closed as they are close to everywhere where they can do harm.
Objection 13. ‘Anonymous’ – Quotes Lilith.
Objection 14. SARSVL – Original piece of work that doesn’t quote Lilith.
Objection 15. ‘Anonymous’ – Doesn’t quote Lilith but has the same map as Objection 12.
Objection 16. ‘Anonymous’ – Doesn’t say a lot, but at least it doesn’t quote Lilith.
Objection 17. ‘Anonymous’ – Doesn’t quote Lilith.
Objection 18. ‘Anonymous’ – Doesn’t quote Lilith but like Objections 12 and 15, goes on about historic buildings.
Objection 19. ‘Anonymous’ – The best objection so far as it presents a mathematical formula that expresses the extent to which women avoid the immediate area of a venue. Written by a maniac who admits they dislike clubs on moral grounds, so they can fuck off then.
Objection 20. ‘Anonymous’ – Doesn’t quote Lilith.
Objection 21. ‘ Anonymous’ – Quotes Lilith.
Objection 22. ‘Anonymous’ – Quotes Lilith.
Objection 23. ‘Anonymous’ – Quotes Lilith.
Objection 24. ‘Anonymous’ – It’s the historic building objection with the map.
Objection 25. ‘Anonymous’ – It’s the historic building objection with the map again.

So we have 25 objections, but if I marked the objection number above with the phrase ‘Quote Lilith’ it is because not only does it quote a totally discredited report, the text of the objection is exactly the same. It’s a boilerplate and it appears 11 times. The historic building proximity objection appears three times, so it’s a boilerplate. I disagree with boilerplates for the simple reason that it is clear a group of self interested individuals have colluded and in this case they are all almost certainly connected with Object.

I spent some time going through the objections for the other clubs, they are all the same objections received for Purple Door. So basically it’s all bullshit.

In July of this year I predicted that Wildcats and Red Leopard would get the chop. I didn’t anticipate Black Diamond, but I still say that Wildcats and Red Leopard will be lined up for license refusal.
That said, both Red Leopard and Wildcats have stated publicly that will initiate legal action against Leeds Council if they are refused their licenses. Both clubs have very good lawyers and wouldn’t be making statements such as that unless they thought they had a very good chance of winning their cases.

I note in the article in TheLeedsCitizen blog that covers Red Leopards reaction that there were 25 objectors and none of them turned up at the Licensing Committee hearing. Hardly a surprise…..

If Becca Charlwood and Kaz Bruce are stupid enough to deny any clubs their licenses they are going to end up in court. I look forward to this. There is nothing I would wish to see more than these two lose their cases and cost Leeds Council a great deal of money in the process.

I gather that Rachel Reeves is now the Shadow Employment Minister and has earned the condemnation of a number of trade union officials because of her hard core views about the way that the unemployed will be treated under labour. Maybe she plans to try out her plans on the 750 people that will lose their jobs if the campaign that she initiated to close every club in Leeds is successful.


So that’s it from me for a while. I imagine I will be back to examine the outcome of the Licensing debacle in Leeds, until then, thanks for supporting the blog.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Mid November Round Up

Well here I sit, not been writing much lately as life been a little funny with me. Still if life wasn't interesting I would be complaining about sitting around bored. So sorry not had anything on the boards but the world was quiet and nothing screamed out to be dealt with. So I sat looking at crime around venues again and no real surprise to us but once again the figures are close to last year. Over 50% of venues have minimal violent crime and in comparison to night clubs in similar areas the rates are really tiny. Yet we don't see campaigners complain about violent and sexual crimes being associated with night clubs.... oh thats right nightclubs are not the problem.

Well next week 6 clubs are up for renewal in Leeds. All objections and support should be in by now so we will see if the council is willing to risk court cases by trying to close two of the clubs. The clubs have previously said they will fight and hope that they all pull together on this on next year the council may force through a recommendation that only 2 clubs are needed. And then the year after 1. If the clubs don't fight now while there are a few of them and they can work together the risk is there will be no one left to fight the religious left in the council. Having seen when the cases are the last two are the ones that worry me as neither have the committee reconvening in the afternoon so they would be the ones I would suspect if the council were to try and close any clubs they would be the targets. Almost oh look we have approved 4 and we can only have 4 so sorry you can't have your license renewed. Hoping I am wrong for the dancers, clubs and customers and it is just my suspicious mind running wild. It should be noted that the council officer did say that there was no control over the councillors and they could refuse all or grant all of them. Considering the risks to the council coffers it would take a brave person or an idiot to risk the court cases.

Interesting the Nightingales got its license in Birmingham, no challenges or complaints and it didn't need to go before a committee by the looks of it as the SEV licensing blog could find no record of the approval in council minutes. Wow how can any club be so lucky? Actually is is a male club in the "gay village area" of Brum. No issues and good luck to them but this makes it interesting next time a club applies for a new license or a renewal and runs foul of the council. Setting a precedent has risks and benefits. Besides we can but hope it is the fact that Birmingham is an enlightened city and they don't have the moral blinkers that cities like Leeds wear.

Wiggle in Bournemouth survived a license renewal by the skin of it' teeth. While many readers would have appreciated the old style lap dancing that seemed to occur there we now have guidelines that mean dancers can't interact with customers. I do think that now that Bournemouth council is going to send in surprise shoppers Wiggle will need to ensure they comply to the letter of the license or they will not get away with another license renewal. This blogger has personal opinions but we are guided by a nanny state and are finding strong religious views permeating through councils bringing moral judgements into an area that an inividual's morals should not apply. We have laws and if a club isn't breaking them then I personally would prefer councils concentrate on making the clubs  better experience for dancers and customers. The knock on effect would be more returning customers.

Finally want to just quickly pick up on the whole issue of UK Sport first saying that funded athletes that went to strip bars or lap dances would lose their funding. And then they quickly said they had made a mistake and they were not going to remove funding if athletes went to these places. Found it funny because the loss of a bronze medal at Stringfellows seems to be the reason this all started. The funny thing is once a few people came out against it and in particular the comments about this applying to hen parties the whole fiasco was dropped. Lets be honest these people won't be out every night they train to hard for that but if the thought police are going to do things then the implications are bad for everyone. No doubt there is a small but noisy group of people wanting to moaning about this but lets be honest they would find something to moan about at the best of times.

TonyN (tonyprince@acdcfan.com)

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Dancers in Chester Speak Out

So as we all know Objectification is a notion central to feminist theory and seen as one of the biggest issues that face SEVs. It is an argument trotted out on every occasion to attack clubs, now one of the issues that are defined within Objectification is defined by Rae Langton as silencing: the treatment of a person as if they are silent, lacking the capacity to speak.

So knowing how that stands one of the things that has been seen whenever dancers speak out is the ignoring of their arguments and denial of the ability to voice an opinion. Whilst not sexual it still reflects exactly what Rae Langton defined in 2009. So we often see discussions that are between the anti sev brigade and club owners who are often seen as the bad guy, the bully or the criminal. Now I don't know every owner but blanket definitions actual make things worse.

However you can imagine how please I was when I found that a local Chester paper had interviewed dancers and their opinions are voiced (here). I want to emphasise the voice of this blog is that we want to see well run clubs that are a good environment for dancers and customers and in the long term that will benefit the owners. There will always be the odd clubs that has issues but shutting well run clubs hurts everyone involved in that club.

So we see that dancers working there have paid mortgages or are planning to open their own businesses which is so much better than on zero hour contracts filling shelves and being abused by management knowing that the workers have very little choice if they want to earn but to take whatever is thrown at them. Dancers creating businesses are not the inert victims who are unable to think, uneducated and submissive. When you read what these women express that point of view seems foolish in the extreme. Sally Haslanger who draws her work from MacKinnon says that for men to sexual objectify women men believe that women are in fact submissive and object like and view this as their nature. Over the years I have met a lot of guys at SEVs and the one thing I have experienced is that none of us view the dancers as submissive or object like. I would not claim that I have never fantasised about a dancer but then I have fantasised about Debbie Harry back in my youth and if I am completely honest I would find my desire comes closer to Haslanger with Debbie Harry than any dancer I have ever met.

So what I am saying here? Well closing well run clubs that the dancers and customers enjoy being at is the least bright idea I can think of. However you do get people who will happily deny dancers their voices and in the case of many anti sev campaigners they treat the dancers as instruments to be used as part of the arguments which as we know reflects Martha Nussbaum's view of objectification.

Sometimes the best way of speaking is with many voices.

TonyN (tonyprince@acdcfan.com)

Thursday, October 17, 2013

My Turn for an Open Letter

Okay firstly I want to explain a bit before flying into this. I was originally working on a template for a letter for clubs to use in response to the templates used by those against the clubs. However this blog has always been against using templates as it stops people being free thinkers and turns them into sheeple. Now I may be wrong but reading the letters sent in against Shades they read like they came from up to 4 templates. The arguments never varied, lines were trotted out almost in a set order and swapping mails with Chasmal reminded me that whilst I could make a template that is not what we are about. Now I am being followed on twitter by a certain Green in the Shades area and maybe he would like to comment on the template issue. So instead I have written an open letter to those decision makers who sit and decide on renewing or granting licenses. I would also say although this open letter covers a lot there is nothing like talking to the dancers to understand the impact a decision can make.

This is an open letter to councillors and MPs who believe that Striptease venues are a risk to society. I have produced this arguments before in the blog but now we have readers from the political spectrum thought it wise to put most of it together.

Dear Politician

I am writing to you to express my concern in your beliefs about striptease venues or SEVs as they are branded by the councils. I have several issues about the beliefs that people have expressed and want to be sure you understand the opposing point of view. Obviously there is only so much that can be expressed in this format but if you open your mind and research further you may be surprised.

Firstly I want to pick up on the claims made by many feminist groups that there is a correlation between striptease venues and rape. This claim is made based on a couple of fallacies. One, the Lilith Report commissioned by the EAVES group, the mathematics used in this report was not examined properly and checked. When it was it was shown to contain errors that meant the data could not be trusted. There is a full systematic tearing apart of the report by Dr Brooke Magnanti if you want to find out how badly wrong the report was. Eaves has now removed Lilith from their website and research by this blogger under freedom of information showed that over a twelve year period including the period that Lilith covered rape figures fell and also fell per 1,000 head of population. Also claims have been made by a member of police in Cornwall that clubs would increase rape. This was later shown to be inaccurate and an online regional newspaper showed that the area concerned had seen a downturn in sexual crime since the introduction of Striptease. While not showing a causal link between reduction of sexual crime and SEVs it certainly disproves the claims that SEVs add to rape crime.

Then there is the claim of increased crime in general around striptease venues, this again is a fallacy and if investigated you will find that nightclubs are between and and 10 times more likely to have crime in comparison. The obvious reasoning behind this is security inside and outside the SEVs and CCTV. The clubs want to continue trading and will be very aware of the issues of crime and do what they can to minimise anything associated with themselves.

Occasionally you will hear people claim that the dancers must be trafficked. As you will know there have been no links to clubs found during both Pentameter and Pentameter 2 and is just a desperate smear attempt to create fears in people who have no knowledge of the industry. Because of the regulations and the ability of councils to inspect venues the whole issue of trafficking would be laughable if the subject matter wasn't so serious.

You will see in letters of objections that mention or imply a view based on morals. Whilst everyone is entitled to opinions the guidelines on renewing licenses say that moralistic views are not to be considered when making a judgement. Therefore any objection based on morals needs to be discarded.

So there is the suggestion that dancers offer sex in these venues. Since the regulations have been introduced by the councils about minimum distance, no contact and the risk of clubs losing their license if anything was to happen you can see that nothing is likely to happen. Once again it is a smear tactic by people opposed to striptease who wish to create fears. Of course the dancers sell a fantasy to the customer in the same way a film sells a fantasy. Because of the moralistic claims of religious groups there is a stigma associated to the performers when if you think about it is more about suggestion than fact.

Now we come onto the biggest issue (apart from NIMBY) that children are going to be corrupted or that churches and schools are at risk. Clubs that open during the day should use discrete signage and the fact that it is behind closed doors means children can't actually see anything. And I have yet to see a school or church that is open when clubs are open and busy. If you feel that neon signs should remain off until after the watershed and the club names need to be subtle then you will receive no argument but to claim that children are at risk from these clubs make no sense when sensible precautions are taken. If the clubs had toys or sweets in the windows then the fears might be understandable but people are imposing their own worries onto a group that doesn't care about SEVs.

Many feminists will claim objectification and to some extent that is true, objectification is natural and about sexual desire. However the feminists are objectifying the dancers by denial of autonomy  and inertness  by denying their agency and giving no value to their opinions. This also creates silencing as it treats the dancers like they are unable to speak. The suppression of natural urges may actually be the most negative aspect of the objectification of the dancers by the ANTI SEV brigade. No doubt some will claim objectification only applies to a sexual nature but this is in fact not the case as studies have shown other areas of objectification.

Finally there is the issue of exploitation, and rather than a long winded discussion I would just point out that all people working are exploited in one fashion or another. Dancers have the ability to withdraw labour far more easily than the average worker and can exercise freedom of choice the same as anyone looking to make a living.

So when deciding to challenge a club please consider the above and also remember the number of people employed in the industry and the suppliers of clubs who will lose business and/or jobs.

Yours sincerely

A strip fan.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Tower Hamlets vs Central Beds It gets more Amusing

Okay first the whole farcical battle at Tower Hamlets rolls into more issues. Seems the licensing committee has not recommended the policy on the way to full council. This is not the end of the process nor will it even probably change the long term plans but there is the view the council may have been a little greedy asking £9k per annum for each license. Now remembering that Westminster Council was taken to court by a sex shop over the excessive license fees and told they should charge a reasonable rate should give Tower Hamlets pause.

However this is not the end, in fact it is not even close as when the whole business goes before the council the chances are even though 97% of people are against the changes the council is still in a position to ignore what the public want.

Now Central Beds has pushed through its Nil Policy but they now have guidelines as to where any club could be located. Basically they have put down just about every area in Central Beds as there is a 500m radius of all sorts of things but the absolute best one that shows the mentality of some councilors is parks or recreational areas for or used by children under the age of 1. Now not sure how many under 1s are going to be affected by objectification or by the sight of a front of a building. Obviously every under 1 would be asking their parents what goes on in there late at night when I am asleep? I really need a sarcasm font.

Finally been having discussions about TENs which people are campaigning to have changed so any event that would require an SEV if it was regularly cannot use temporary event notices. More of the moral thought police but it raises the question how do women get to go see the Dream Boys or Chippendales etc? As the venues would need to apply for a TENs to hold the event. So no TENs for adult entertainment means no male striptease, I have checked with a couple of councils about how they license these events and been told it is TENs. So all you ladies that enjoy seeing events like the dream boys watch out as if that TENs law changes it will come bite you as well. Still nothing like radical feminism ignoring any other women so they can railroad they opinion through.

TonyN (tonyprince@acdcfan.com)

Friday, October 11, 2013

Leeds Vs Watford, No not a Football Match

Okay so a couple of things I want to put on the table.

Firstly Leeds, oh no not again I hear you cry. Well it seems that a feminist group called support after rape want to object to the Leeds clubs (here). Now I would really like to see positive support of rape victims but once again there is the myth that the clubs are linked to rape, drug rings and people trafficking. Now they don't even supply links to support their claims (with Lilith removed from the Eaves site can see why it is a challenge) but rely on peoples imaginations to create an image that has no foundation in reality.

Now 6 clubs are wanting to renew their licenses and the website is calling for objections before the deadline on the 24th October. I would ask any readers of this blog that live in Leeds or have/will use the clubs should also write into the Licensing department at Entertainment Licensing, Leeds City Council, Civic Hall, Leeds, LS1 1UR or e-mail entertainment.licensing@leeds.gov.uk and to the clubs I would suggest you get your patrons and dancers to write in. Ensure you point out that the claims about rape, drugs and trafficking have no basis in reality and that scaremongering based on unsubstantiated claims only reflects badly on those who cannot be bothered to check information.

Ok now we are going to Watford and Beavers has been refused it's license because of the Police. It seems that dancers were offering more than just dancing to two undercover police. The police also believe there is a person behind the scenes who would be refused a license under normal circumstances. Now as much as I would want to support clubs this blog has always been about clubs being run within the legal guidelines and not about the owners but for the dancers and customers. Of course the clubs benefit from this but the focus is that the clubs know the stipulations and if they can't operate within them then they have no one but themselves to blame for losing their license.

Hopefully in the next few days we will have a piece by long time bog supporter Brute and also some news on Tower Hamlets, I am just waiting on something in writing.

TonyN (tonyprince@acdcfan.com)

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Big Round Up (get a coffee)

Well this is a round up of all the stuff flying round with licenses and the moralists trying to close clubs. There is quite a bit to cover as so much is going on and it is hard to keep track of all the battles being fought.

Okay firstly I want to pick up on TENs or Temporary Event Notifications as they are formally known. These are used any clubs and pubs to put on things that are outside their current license and has included dancing. Now it has come to the attention of a politician and she wants to stop TENs being used to provide adult events. Venues can use 11 TENs over the course of a year and there are rules governing them. So of course venues testing the waters to see if dancing would work for them is now out. However I wonder if the politician has realised that TENs is how male strip troupes perform at different clubs. Will places that have male dancers need to get SEVs? I can see a lot of angry Hen Parties if the male dancer events are harder to find. And there is also a chance this will impact on the LGBT clubs if they have performances with nakedness in. The implications of taken TENs away from clubs to try striptease or have fairly regular events is interesting to say the least.

So with the TENs issue in mind I want to jump over to Chester where the Platinum Lounge lost its License. Not for crime or infringements of the license but because of the claim the area had become more residential. The club which has been going since 2005 has had no issues with the police and reading articles about the refusal the dancers enjoyed working there. Now I am not a resident but investigating the area seems to have a lot of businesses for a residential area. So this is where the council uses excuses to close a venue because they don't like it. This based on a grand total of 8 objections and a representation from local business lead by Debbie Lomas. Said Debbie Lomas has made sweeping statements even though she has never been inside the club and she was challenged back in 2011 by a dancer to come to the club and talk face to face which of course she hasn't done. The management haven't decided yet on if they will ask for a judicial review but under the circumstances such tiny opposition should not be allowed to dictate as it sets an awful precedent for those councillors who want to be our moral guardians. Management has talked about using TENs to get events all over Chester but if the law changes this could be a very short term plan. So management of Platinum Lounge I would suggest you challenge this, if you do you will be able to continue to trade (Oxford has done this and are awaiting their court case). BEST OF LUCK

So speaking of moral guardians Leeds has popped back up on the Radar, you may remember that we reported that planning permission  had been granted to Black Diamond to expand from 2 to 4 floors. Well the licensing committee has overturned that decision as they have not granted a change to the license citing the policy to reduce the Leeds to 4 clubs. The venue is currently closed and the management has not made a decision on if they should re-open under the current terms. We have suggested this is one that the council will target but this is not the stopping of dancing just the expansion. However it is a suggestion the club maybe a target for the council.

And back to Hounslow who was looking to adopt a Nil Policy, well they have as they had 20 letters of support for the Nil Policy and 9 Against. Nice to see the enthusiasm in the borough peaked which such a massive turnout.... Interesting to note the council does state that the council will listen to applicants on merit although it will have to demonstrate why the council should depart from its policy. And - guess what? - the initial license fee is non -refundable people can read into this what they may as money earning potential one way or another.

Okay some amusement in the middle as Bristol renews the license of Central Chambers after only 9 Objections (where is everyone who attacked the clubs last year?). Best bit though was the attack from a campaigner (7 of 9 maybe?) used some interesting language to describe the head of the licensing committee a “sexist, misogynistic fuckface“, much respect to Bristol_Jane for such an intellectual and well thought out argument.

Next we are off to Tower Hamlets (again). I spent a pleasant evening watching live tweets from Ted Jeory from the council meeting where the Licensing Policy was to be confirmed and although we didn't get tweets that far into the evening it was a debacle. Councillors had signed up to not use language that would insult the physically and mentally disabled so of course that one went by the wayside pretty quick. One councillor was called Susan Boyle, a member of the public tried to ask a question in Bengali and was told no and that a translator would be provided next meeting at council expense but then his friend offered to translate and got involved. They have agreed that livestreams of the council meetings will be available in the future and as a fan of comedy I will be watching.

So to the Nil Policy which as we remember had two consultations. Now the report about the 2011 consultation has just over 4000 responses with 121 duplicates and some discounted because they were not sure they were in the borough. I would love to see what they decided was acceptable or not as their online submission did NOT have mandatory fields which might explain why some people did not put in locations. However the original claim was for over 6000 response so somehow around 2000 responses have disappeared. Not one to accuse people but..... Anyway second consultation was 2.2% for a nil policy and 97.8% against a nil policy so obviously the council decides the public doesn't know what is good for it and makes its own decision. All I will say is the first effort to close a club and this will be bounced in front of the court and the council will have a hell of a lot of explaining to do.

And Twitter has been an amazing tool, yesterday I sat and watch the debate between "feminists" and feminist sex workers who were denied access to the Nottingham Women's Conference. Now I know some people will point out that this blog is about striptease and lap dancing but there are key points here. Firstly that the sex workers have representation on the GMB the same as the dancers so things that affect them should interest us at least. And secondly and more importantly #NWC2013 was to discuss sex work and things like the scandinavian model, which would be fine but the organisers refused to let current sex workers into the conference including the SW Open University. Now to speak about a group of women at a feminist meeting and yet deny them a voice is tactics you will see again and again as the whole premise that feminist book writers and speakers rely on is victimhood. To allow these women to speak and show that they have got a GCSE or two (the comments yesterday included uneducated) and are free thinkers exercising choice would knock their house of cards over. Women like Dr Julia Long whose book drive we covered earlier in the year and here again allowed to speak and promote herself and her book.

So busy that the things I have wanted to work on, being 2012 crime figures and SEVs as a community safety valve, have been put on the back burner. But they will resurface when time and health allow.

TonyN (tonyprince@acdcfan.com)

Sunday, September 15, 2013

May the Farce Be With You, Tower Hamlets Strike Back

Well I have to say thank you to Brute to pointing me at the report from the Tower Hamlets council on SEVs (here). Now the thing that really matters to me that was brought to my attention is a very small part of the actual report and in any other case it might have just got noted in the next round up. BUT the council has really made me annoyed with this.

The sections that really hit home are 6.6 to 6.9 where the council shows it's two faced nature and its bitterness towards people who coordinate to defend their businesses. The fact is the council made a massive effort to ensure they got the result they want and it backfired.

So the council wanted to ensure it got the result it wanted that they could adopt the powers to regulate SEVs. To try to ensure the council got the power they used the council paper, local and Bengali media and the council's website. They also  contacted Faith Groups, Community Safety, Women's Organisations (not named which though), Networks and Forums, Advocacy Services and even Housing associations. This looks like a damned concentrated effort to make sure the council can say they are operating with the backing of the public remembering the first consultation was more or less split down the middle.

However the council got a very nasty surprise, A total of 4,973 responses (526 online and 4,447 paper returns) were received, with 1,424 forms being returned from the Pleasure Lounge. The responses were as follows:  108 (2.2%) ‘Yes’ responses, in favour of adopting 4,865 (97.8) ‘No’ responses, not in favour of adopting.

Now the council had tried to get a co-ordinated response to back themselves but they go on to decry the clubs who ask customers to fill in forms when the are at the club. Considering the number of clubs that operate I am only surprised that the response was not bigger. Trying to be clever and thinking that the clubs are not following what is going on only to find that the clubs not only are following and responding but also have a pretty active customer base that is more than happy to fill in the forms. When you consider that with the agencies the Tower Hamlets area has around 1,000 dancers working then you only need each dancer to find 5 customers who would fill in forms and this is the result you would get.

So the council got a surprise and is now trying to say that what the clubs did was wrong when all they did was do the same as the council and engage with their stakeholders. Personally this is amusing as it has made the claims in the report seem pedantic and childish and very much a case of wahhhhhhh I didn't get my own way. Next we will probably see the passing of the nil policy with exceptions like Hackney but as Brute pointed out to me just done over a much longer period and with a much greater expense.

A Very Amused TonyN (tonyprince@acdcfan.com)

Sunday, September 8, 2013

No Time For A Wee Dram?

And soon could be no chance for the clubs in Glasgow. Alex Salmond's Government Plans for next year include a change in the licensing bill. Which will see councils moving more towards the licensing under the England and Wales 2003 act. And this would give the councils the right to set nil limits and would probably see the same fiascos as we have had south of the border with councils with no clubs setting nil policies because it makes them look good.

Trouble is Glasgow has called for the power and based on the way they view the clubs (remember they commissioned Julie Bindel's swiss cheese like report) we could expect a zero limit and the existing clubs facing legal battles. Sandra White has been campaigning for stricter controls and has a belief that clubs are linked to violence. I tweeted her the question which report is she basing that claim on but so far no reply.

So I am now asking that anyone who has contact with the clubs named in the Bindel Report please get them to contact me. I know that you see each other as competition but unless the clubs in Glasgow start kicking off now with the council there is a chance they will be railroaded at a later date. I have tweeted at one club and e-mailed another but there has been a lack of response from the clubs. I am not after money or working for some club, I am a fanboy that wants dancers to have the right to choose how they earn a living. Which means I will fight tooth and nail to support the clubs that are properly managed. I would quite happily help run out of town clubs that aren't.

Anyway point being is the Bindel report is under a section marked prostitution (here) which implies the council believe you are running prostitutes out of your clubs. Not sure if this how you want to market your clubs but unless you start to redress the balance the chances are you are going to find that will haunt you next year. The report also references the Tottenham Court Road Branch of Spearmint Rhino and the Flying Scotsman. With the Scottie expected to drop striptease next year I contacted SPR but have not heard back yet. I also e-mailed Jim Coleman about the report but had no reply as he wrote the Foreward.

So will the clubs roll over and play dead or will we see the battle lines drawn? Not sure but with Lilith dead it seems that all the Glasgow arguments are based on a report which I have questioned and poked. If that is taken out of the frame then the arguments are not based on any claimed empirical evidence but is just made up beliefs.

TonyN (tonyprince@acdcfan.com)

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Tower Hamlets Back on the Road

Well just been looking at the agenda for the Licensing Committee for the 11th September and reading the PDFs. Makes interesting reading and really seems like a mess waiting to happen (again).

First up is the pdf dealing with all the on line responses, well actually that does not look right. Speaking to groups who previously supported the clubs they had people who filled in the form online and yet item 8.1d barely has any responses and those are not what I have been expecting. Now I would not claim fiddle but I would like to see the verified details of every online submission.

Moving on to the actual policy the council is not adopting the 2003 policy for SEVs but is for everything else. Now not sure how that plays or what the impact on the clubs is given the fact that the council obviously did not get a mandate to change the framework to the 2003 policy on SEVs.

Moving on to the draft policy which has Sexual Entertainment as Section 18 on page 26. The council is trying to develop a separate policy based on amendments to the 1982 Act schedule 3. However in the meantime the council are going to use "discretion" around venues taking into account schools, places of worship etc (18.4). This could be a run in to trying to close the venues but we will have to wait and see on the renewals. If the Swan gets its license and they try to close the others it could prove "interesting!"

The actual policy however establishes a nil policy for new venues and allows venues to continue subject to the license fees and regulatory controls. It should be noted that the reason the existing clubs are going to be allowed to trade is that the council has noted article 1 of the First Protocol of  Human Rights.

The statements in the agenda seem contradictory and the policy seems to be a disaster waiting to happen. A nil policy that leaves all the current venues alone so Hackney again but I doubt that this is the end, sooner or later Rahman will try and force a venue closed in my humble opinion.

Finally noted at the end of the agenda as already resolved the council will consult on if it should adopt the policy based around the 1982 Act schedule 3. So lets go round again looks like after so long we are back at the start. All aboard the Tower Hamlets roundabout. So nil policy but another consultation and power in place to close venues. Doesn't seem like anyone is better off.

TonyN (tonyprince@acdcfan.com)

Monday, September 2, 2013

Welcome to September (a round up)

Well been nice and quiet for a bit and to be very honest I was hoping my two last pieces would have got a response from the author or the councillor who wrote the introduction. Well now I guess we can see the two pieces must be reasonably factually correct or given the history we could have expected legal action. The fact the only challenge was on a tweet as I didn't know one of the more confusing issues with Twitter. And yes I changed the introduction as I will stand by what I write and if someone has facts that prove me wrong I will acknowledge it rather than pretend it never happened.

Okay we are now off to Woolwich where the Royal Standard Strip Pub has had dancing stopped over issues with renewing the license. Seems 3 councillors have been sitting round like schoolboys doing home work and they have all sent in the same(ish) letter with the whole what about the schools issue. It is a pub, last time I checked kids are not allowed in so how would this affect them? Is there plasma screens on the outside with the dancers being live streamed? no! Is there peep holes designed so kids can peek in? No! Does it advertise sweets or toys? No! So why do people think children would be bothered, upset or even know what is going on. Seems the pub has agreed to security to stop the 1,000s' of children beating the doors down. We look forward to seeing what is going to happen there but the renewal application is being done on the 5th so we look forward to seeing the results there.

Now up to Leeds which Chasmal has been keen on watching and Black Diamond (or Tantric Blue) never got planning permission for the expansion. This has been sought and approved, so now we have the issue of the council said I could expand so how does the license committee close the venue unless there are major infractions on the license. I always thought this would be one of the targets to go but now you have to think the licensing committee will have to target other venues. Certainly seems joined up Government has maintained the standards I knew when I was in Local Government.

And it seems there will be another interesting licensing committee meeting on the 5th as Shades is up for renewal. After the dropping of the judicial review it will be interesting to see what the opposition come up with now. We hope that all the patrons are sending in letters of support and that the council realise if the judicial review was dropped that would have been on legal advice. So long as Shades trades within its license I have a suspicion the council would have a hard time in court about closing the place. Wishing the Shades crowd all the best!
Edit Letters of objection or support should be in by 5th September. So post now!


Well I couldn't write this without joining in the MileyGate Debate. Notice that a lot of the feminist commentators had to avoid slut shaming tactics as they decry that as an attack on women so suddenly we get cultural appropriation... which is when white people act black as far as the commentators describe. Now not an expert on this but Elvis was attacked for cultural appropriation in the 50s (plus the hips) so 60 years later we seem to have got no further. Why didn't someone say this back when Vanilla Ice came onto the scene. Seriously I am no fan of her music and really don't care about what she did with Thicke but looking round for excuses to have a go at the girl without slut shaming is amusing (if it wasn't such old hat). So another disney girl sheds her wholesome image, Britney and Christina both of whom have moved on. These women are old enough to make up their own minds and just because it doesn't fit with the view some people have they are still exercising free choice so get a grip people.

TonyN (tonyprince@acdcfan.com)

Thursday, August 22, 2013

A Bit More Bindel

Most people who read this blog know I get much more enthused in writing when defending venues and the right for each case to be judge on merit rather than blanket bans which are the current flavour of the month for councils who don't have venues. Or when defending the right to choose for individuals within the law. However as my last couple of pieces have been addressing the tools used by those who cry wolf and decide that every issue should be laid at the door of the strip industry. So I want to go further with the report by Bindel for Glasgow. I have to edit this due to the strange nature of twitter which hides tweets from conversations after 7 days. So JB still stands by her report which is brave considering the things we are pointing out.

So back to that document from Bindel and firstly I want to draw on her methodology. The covert interviews with both customers and dancers has some ethical questions as to why dancers could not be interviewed face to face? Certainly Saunder and Hardy did that in their work and reflected exactly what the dancers said. Was there a worry about the dancers saying things that would not reflect the direction the report wanted to point? So we have now look at how the dancers and customers were selected? Was there a demographic reflected in the work? A totally random sample of 20 customers and dancers should have thrown up a wider range of answers. It appears that the selection may have been on a criteria that was given to the interviewers and we have no idea why any were selected. The worry I have is that no customer was interviewed in Spearmint Rhino in London, the reason given was the customers were unapproachable. I would love to know what that means and how it was decided a customer was approachable. The structure of the methodology for the covert interviews raises questions on how and why people were targeted. This also applies to people interviewed outside the clubs as the use of the word random raises questions. If you are going to interview 20 people then 10 of each sex would seem appropriate but we are not even sure of that.

There was a diagram (figure 1) which is suppose to show the drivers that "cause" the possibility of prostitution. As no study was done in the research about the average earnings of dancers the diagram is a generalization that has no facts to back it up. In fact when you look at the research in 2009 by Leeds University and the earning power of the average dancer of £232 per shift after paying fees the indication is that dancers are quite capable of earning over £4k a month. This makes the claims in figure 1 seem rather invalid, one can only assume that dancers gave the interviewers the I am going to earn nothing story to try and get the interviewer to spend money, as no validation seems to have been done by the interviewers and we cannot assume no dancers were earning from working. So the drivers given by JB are assumptions and we all know what ASSumption are.

Now to look at table 2 again, there is an awful lot of not knowns, in fact I would estimate 50% of that table is not known. And even better is the no special conditions for Legs and Co where the table makes it appear that under 18s could get into the venue even though standard licensing laws would preclude that. And to be honest that truly is a misrepresentation of the club as the report acts as though no licensing laws apply to venues when as they sell alcohol they obviously are governed by licensing laws.

Interestingly the report make claims that the clubs are run by criminals. However licensing laws would preclude people with unpsent criminal convictions from obtaining a license. There could of course be people who are suspected of being criminals which are being referred to, but nice to see innocent till proven guilty being applied (not) if this is the case. Police have the ability to stop alcohol licenses and if a criminal applied they could easily stop the issue of licenses. Ignoring the police's abilities and yet making claims about crime you wonder just how the police is seen by the author? Certainly with freedom of information the public can easily find out about crime around the clubs if it exists.

Bindel does offer some support for dancers when she states “There is little doubt that improving working conditions and contractual arrangements for the dancers would, nevertheless, be of benefit, at least in the short term.”. Why the short term you ask? Well I would take a wild stab in the dark that someone expected venues to close in the longer term. It is a shame there wasn't more support of those women who choose to dance from the radical feminists along these lines rather than the close the clubs and don't worry about the impact it would have on female employment. Interestingly not every feminist has that view including a lot of dancers who see themselves as feminists but are being told that they can't be feminists because they don't fit in with the radical feminists belief in how the world should be.

The use of drugs is something that has me scratching my head, the report says some dancers use drugs and yet I can point out that some doctors use drugs, some investment bankers use drugs, some academic staff use drugs. I know a couple of dancers that will smoke pot but club owners are very aware of the damage drugs being found on the premise would have for their license so they are very against drugs. Certainly I haven't seen any epidemic among dancers in the 20 plus years I have been on the circuit. No doubt there will be the cry they use drugs to dull their sense or they couldn't dance, given that an estimated one in three adults have used drugs at some point in their lives then sorry if you tried to close every industry that used drugs they would be no industries. And how many feminists use drugs? Should we ban feminism because some feminists use drugs? Lets be honest woman found with joint doesn't look like getting a headline but if it was lap dancer found with joint suddenly the whole thing changes. It does show the very two faced nature of these sort of claims.

Still more gems are buried in Bindel's report and all I can say is that in my opinion it has no value now. It may have had a little value in 2004 and that would be generous but in 2013 the report bears no reflection on the current state of the industry in the UK and some of the bibliography quoted in 2004 has even less value. Certainly with Lilith being withdrawn there is now a spate of documents that were previously supporting the radical feminists have lost their importance. Anyone using the Bindel report in 2013 as a resource for the trying to close clubs needs to have a serious rethink!!!!!! I look forward to the chance to debate the validity of the report with anyone who believes it is worth defending.

TonyN (tonyprince@acdcfan.com)


Saturday, August 10, 2013

Bindel's 2004 Report to Glasgow Council

This is a review of Julie Bindel's (JB from here on in) 2004 report for Glasgow and it's relative value in 2013. Couple of things first before I get into this, firstly this is just my personal take on it shaped by 20 years plus exposure to the industry, 4 years in local government and 4 years in pre sales/marketing. Secondly this was a 64 page report and I have 62 observations and comments running into over 6 pages in abbreviated form, if I wrote this up as a report it would run into 12 to 15 pages without a bibliography. I would also point out that JB did answer me via twitter that she stands by this report  as valid for the UK in 2013.

Okay this is just a general observation in the use of language, grammar and punctuation. Throughout the report JB uses the term evidence with the meaning signs or indication, however the use of the word evidence in Local Government is for indicating whether a belief or proposition is true or valid. Obviously this could shape the belief that rather that being a sign it is a fact. This is interpretational but experience in Local Government would lead the reader to believe fact rather than supposition. Also within the report there is usage of speech marks to indicate a possible second meaning. This is to create another supposition based on belief rather than knowledge, for example I believe that JB intention was to "encourage" a belief in line with her personal views. See what I did there? This happens throughout the document especially with reference to dancers in the "interviews".

Now this will be amusing to any London club fans as Spearmint Rhino and Flying Scotsman are compared as a like for like through most of the report and it is only in a small quick paragraph that the Scottie is acknowledge as a strip pub and even then the "observer" in the venue failed to notice that the dancers collected before going on stage but stated that they collected after -1 for observation. There is table 2 which seems to indicate that private dancing takes place in the Scottie and only later does it concede that no private dancing takes place. For some reason the report forgets to inform readers that the dancing takes place on a stage. I was amused that the "Observer" was pointed to a pimp in the club as someone once pointed me out to staff as a drug dealer simply because I was monopolising the attention of his favourite dancer. I have even left the Scottie at the same time as a dancer I knew as a friend as she lived on my way home so I would drop her off. This does not mean prostitution just that I had a good friendship with that dancer. I would point out that also in 2004 that several pubs in the area (for those that don't know the Scottie is in Kings cross) would be visited by prostitutes close to closing time looking for customers. This wasn't anything about the Scottie apart from the fact there were men there which applied to several other pubs. Useful though using the locality to help paint the picture.

Now lets move to the covert interviews most especially with dancers as obviously there was little structure which is acknowledged in a table that part of the interview was done covertly. Now the issue is the dancers believe that the interviewer is a customer and approaches her as such using different marketing ploys to encourage her to spend money. From I love my job to woe is me I am going to make no money tonight, these are tools of the trade. I also wonder what guidelines were given to the interviewers as people can shape discussions and lead them in certain directions. I have had training in Pre Sales to do this and know how simple it is to get people to not only discuss what you want them to but also to use language to shape answers. Not saying this was the case but pointing out as woe is me answer could be dancer marketing, interviewer shaping the discussion or just woe is me. TBH though I know how well dancers do so guessing it is marketing. There is a classic line in the report that had me wondering just how na├»ve the author is? “There are indications that the dancers would attempt to maximise their earnings by extracting as much as possible from each customer they had contact with.” I am sorry but dancers earn their living from the payment by customers for their performance why wouldn't anyone want to maximise their earnings?

The report references a story from the Scottish Daily Record in 1997 where it is claimed 3 women were deported that were part of a trafficking ring. Unfortunately having looked under various versions of the description in Google there seems to be no reference to the case although even if there was one case both Pentameter and Pentameter II had no raids on any clubs throughout the UK. Certainly with the more stringent checks in England and Wales of dancers by councils it would be almost impossible for a dancer to be a victim of trafficking. If the one case is valid then that in over 20 years of my exposure to the industry is the only case that I have ever heard of.

Now jump to chapter A Front for Prostitution? This is a big chapter and to be honest it is hard to know where to start. The question of physical contact and dancers touching themselves during performances were raised however in 2004 there were no standard practises or guidelines for clubs so Lap Dancing obviously in clubs involved physical contact. With the changes in council regulations dancers are not allowed to touch customers nor customers touch dancers. In fact even a kiss on the cheek or walking the customer hand in hand to the private dance area has been stopped by some venues to ensure that council rules cannot be misinterpreted. The section on prostitution contains a lot of suggestions of selling sex yet no actual proof is offered on any of the 6 venues. With the much more stringent regulations councils are putting in place and the concern venues have for keeping their licenses I would suggest that the chances of prostitution are slim. Not saying that it would never happen but from my knowledge of the London scene of 20 years I can only think of one dancer who would arrange to meet customers at hotels etc and she was fired from 4 venues that I know of. However dancers do make friends with customers and sometimes you meet for coffee or a birthday drink that does not mean that sex is being sold just that normal social interaction is taking place.

Now lets jump to clubs in context: The claim of widespread opposition to clubs is strange as the research recently by Professor Phil Hubbard indicated whilst there were issues agreeing locations only 3% of the 941 people surveyed said there was no place for these clubs and then it just turned into NIMBY from some of those surveyed. As the numbers surveyed far exceed the numbers in the 2004 paper that were interviewed the results are more likely to reflect true public opinion. I note that an interviewee in London claimed issues with Spearmint Rhino and noise levels. Has this person never heard of environmental health? If the noise level was truly unbearable then the person could easily have had the venue even closed for repeat offences. Having worked in Local Government the club could have been shut if the noise was that bad. There is also the quote of one person who is local who is embarrassed by the club being near. That reflect a persons moral objection, I could easily say I would be over the moon to be near a club. My opinion would be described as irrelevant by those who oppose clubs and yet the statement that one individual is embarrassed is given weight as it reflects the author's opinion.

I could go on and on and on. I will point out that since the report was written we have had multiple academic researches done using much larger and more diverse samples. Leeds interviewed 200 dancers, Kent had over 900 individuals involved! Also JB has Lilith in the report which has been removed from the Eaves website and the freedom of information requests from Newquay, Camden and Wandsworth which suggests that the idea that clubs encourage sexual violence is in fact a fallacy. I have seen how wording can shape belief and how belief can shape wording especially in Local Government. The choice by Glasgow council of who to write the report suggests they had an intended end game and employed the person most likely to reflect their beliefs. This is nothing new in Local Government, I have done it myself on a couple of occasions and deliberately employed the consultant whose report would reflect the result I wanted. Certainly people would know of JB's beliefs before employing her and this would then bring into question how objective the report was ever going to be.

I am starting to realise that this is going to be longer than intended and I do apologise, there was so much to pick and choose from and trying to get those bits I wanted from my subjective opinion. Still anyone who refers to this report as valid for 2013 would also need to acknowledge that the Leeds and Kent researches are larger and more recent and have researchers who are much more objective. I would say that I have enough issues from the report to Glasgow that I would question in usefulness in the strongest terms.

TonyN tonyprince@acdcfan.com