Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Diana Johnson MP, how local is ‘local’?

I would like to thank Brute for writing this article and his work in getting the FoI.

Some readers of this blog may be aware that Diana Johnson, MP for Kingston-upon-Hull North, made a speech to the House of Commons on the 28th of January, outlining a Private Member’s Bill which proposed making the adoption of Sexual Entertainment Licences (SEVs) mandatory for all local authorities with regard to striptease venues.

As part of her speech to the House, Johnson quoted three letters which she said she had received from ‘local residents’. I was unaware of there being any striptease venues within the Kingston upon Hull North constituency, and some of the content of these letters seemed strangely familiar to me, so I decided to investigate matters further by sending a Freedom of Information Request to Kingston upon Hull City Council the following is their reply:

"Freedom of Information Act 2000 – Information Request - 000304/14

With regard to your Freedom of Information request received on 7 February 2014, please find our response below.

'I am making an enquiry under the terms of the Freedom of Information Act, and I would grateful if you would provide me the following information:-

• Details of premises within the city currently licenced for striptease (either under the Police and Crime Act 2009, or the Licensing Act 2003);

• Details of any premises which were licenced for striptease (under the Licensing Act 2003) over the last ten years, i.e. from February 2004;

• Records of any official complaints made against the above premises, either to Kingston-upon-Hull City Council or Humberside Police.'

The only two premises that have been licensed for striptease are Fantasy Bar (now the Honey Trap) and Purple Door.  There have been no official complaints made against either of these premises.

We hope that you will be satisfied with our response and should you require any further information then please do not hesitate to contact us."

The Honey Trap and the Purple Door are both clubs in the city centre of Hull, which comes under the neighbouring constituency of Kingston upon Hull West and Hessle.

Johnson’s Bill is due for a second reading before Parliament this coming Friday, the 28th of February; thankfully, it has little-to-no chance of becoming law. However, the content of the above speech has sparked off a few questions for her in my mind, starting with: is a ‘local resident’ the same thing as a constituent; and if not, what constitutes ‘local’ in this context?

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Oxford, a Look Back In Anger

So the battle that the Thirst Lodge has been fighting has taken a turn for the worst. An appeals judge Lord Justice Lloyd Jones has decided the council can decide to close a venue even if they have previously granted a license and there has been no change of use in the area. This could be a dangerous precedent that could affect clubs and pubs around the UK.

Now this has been part of a battle that has seen Cllr Bob Price Leader of Oxford City Council who said in 2010 he did not want lap-dancing clubs in Oxford. He called lap-dancing “dubious and exploitative”, adding: “It may not be unlawful, but it’s not something we want here.” Which is very not in my back yard and makes the assumption about the rest of the general public who never really objected to the club license except for a small handful from the Oxford Feminist Network.

Back in 2011 when the church close to the club tried to have the license removed found that Deputy District Judge Gary Lucie threw out the church’s appeal after finding there was no public nuisance, the church’s activities rarely overlapped with Thirst Lodge’s opening hours and crime in the area had fallen since the club’s change of use. And we note the last part of the statement that crime had fallen!

Now because of all the fuss the owner decided to move the club to a new location. You would think the council might have said at the outset that they didn't think the location was suitable but they were happy to let the club reopen in its new location of Oxpens and grant a license. Strange that one year later they announce plans for the future for the area and also decide the Lodge was no longer suitable for the area. Oxford Feminist Network did claim a survey showed that women in the area were being verbally abused by the club customers even though the club is sat next to a night club and it would be hard to tell which club is to blame. Plus of course there seems to be a lack of police reports, you know with the claims of being verbally abused but only on a person's claim which remember we have seen Object in the past encourage people to use.

So here we have a club that moved because the council was making noises about its old location. Now I can't see a club moving to a new location without being told they will get their license, yet the council neglected to mention that plans were being worked on for the area. I have said it before but to me this was a deliberate ploy to shut the club by getting it to locate near to a night club so any issues from the night club becomes the Lodge's problems. I just cannot see the club moving in isolation and personally I think the council pulled a disgusting maneuver as in my years in local government I saw how long it took to get plans like the work planned for Oxpens. It was, to me, a deliberate ploy to close the Lodge and after £100k of investment the 1 year of operation and the attempts to close the place needs to be questioned.

Okay I am rehashing old ground but this sends out a message that will affect clubs all over the UK. Now what gets me is the fact that not even 0.1% of the population of Oxford complained so this is not about what the public wants but about what a very small minority want. Shame that the council didn't ask the locals what they thought.

TonyN (

Sunday, February 9, 2014

One Way Traffick

Well if you are a regular reader of the blog you will know of my fascination with crime and in particular claims of crime associated with clubs. Now we knew with the death of Lilith those people trying to shut the clubs would need to find another crime to base their scaremongering on.

So anyone who has followed the press recently will have seen a certain MP refer to trafficking in the same breath as talking about clubs. Careful wording of course. the sex entertainment industry is the name used as an all embracing point to try and mix arguments and claims and make any counter claims more difficult.

Now I like a little light reading and felt I needed to read more on the subject not just in the UK but also about America as there have been a couple of cases there and no doubt those in the UK trying to close the SEVs down will use America as an example even though the UK industry doesn't bear any relation to the existing American scene.

So first lets pick up with the claims in Bindel's report of trafficking, I have been looking to see which club it was and I cannot find any record of any club being involved. And I am pretty good about digging through the internet to find info but if a club was involved the club would have been closed but I am struggling on this one. Certainly I can find no article where a club has had a trafficked dancer in the press. The only failure that I know of was an underage dancer with a forged driving license.

So as I am reading all about trafficking and both sides of the arguments I find Ronald Weitzer, Sex Trafficking and the Sex Industry: The Need for Evidence-Based Theory and Legislation, 101 J. Crim. L. & Criminology 1337 (2013).

This is a document in the US criminal journal and even in this there is regular references to the lack of evidence and the that theories are just that theories without any facts on which they are based. In America there are different definitions of trafficking and if a couple move to a different state and one partner dances that can be seen as trafficking even if no coercion is in play. In the UK with councils being able to inspect the documentation of dancers there is a process to protect the dancers. But our county borders do not have the same effect as state borders in the US so things will be different.

Now there have been very occasional links to trafficking in the US but these have been minimal. Whilst the UK has had no club that has had trafficked dancers. Remember two major police investigations Pentameter and Pentameter 2 did not link one club to trafficking so the use of implication again by those cannot find any facts of wrong doing by the clubs just shows how desperate certain people are to create a fear of clubs centered around fiction. Obviously this is a massive subject that I have tried to minimise for readability and there are many aspects to trafficking but I would suggest readers who are interested read around on both sides of the discussion so they can form an opinion not biased by a single view.

As an aside congratz to Upstairs in York who got it's licensed renewed even though there were a few objections.

TonyN (