So we need to talk about consultations. A couple of events have happened over the last week or two and it has caused a few people to think. To be honest there have been discussions behind the scenes with Edie, Brute, Chasmal and myself about the issue of consultations and whilst we don't have a proposal yet I can see us seriously working on concepts in the future.
So what has caused the discussions? Well firstly Birmingham, they had a consultation along the lines of Leeds about the number of clubs to try and keep the number below 12. So one of the UK's largest Cities as the public for a response and gets a grand total of 41 responses, of which 27 want to set a limit. Now this is a population of over a million people and the people wanting to limit clubs is 0.0002% of the population. Such a ridiculously small figure and yet there is still the possibility that the council will be able to pass legislation based on this.
As pointed out about this on the SEV Licensing blog (here) the agenda refers to violence around the clubs. Yet we have seen previously that when clubs are co located with Nightclubs the violence/sexual crimes are much greater than when clubs are not near the nightclubs. Also it seems the press just can't help themselves and have to use scaremongering by inflating figures and disregarding the fact that the clubs are located in the same area as nightclubs, bars and take-away's. This sort of poor reporting unfortunately can influence politicians as the facts are not checked and policies can be made based on misinformation. I am sure there will be more about this coming out as the council decide what they are going to do.
Next we have Bolton which seems to have implemented a nil policy with exceptions for existing venues, now this came as a bit of a surprise because as far as I knew there has not been a consultation about this which is suppose to be mandatory. I know that this is being checked by Brute so when the information becomes confirmed we will add to the story. But if councils can act without a consultation then there will be long term issues. Strange because Bolton are working on the basis we have to have a policy so lets make it a nil one. If councils can do things unchecked then we would see blanket bans for the simple reason that the councillors would never want to be seen as enjoying adult entertainment. Amazing considering the number of people in the industry but there is still a stigma.
I do want to say when we have seen larger responses to consultations that have been put out to the public clearly the response tends to be in favour of the clubs. However it does seem that councils do not want to publicise consultations for fear of the people coming out in favour of the clubs so they push through ones that no one knows about. Somethings we only find out because the consultation details get published in the social media for the Anti brigade and of course if we spot it we will highlight it. But clearly when a minute part of the population of an area respond to a consultation there is an issue. Did the clubs even know that something might affect them. And if councils can put in place policies without consultations or against the wishes of the public there is major issues.
So perhaps it is time that the government did something about the consultations and more importantly made sure that if the public want clubs councils cannot close them using claims based round citizen panels which are never an accurate reflection of the general population. Or because the Council think they know best causing situations like the nil policies in Tower Hamlets and Hackney.