Sunday, April 26, 2015

Leeds: The Final Act (for now)!

We have written pieces about Leeds for the last few years and to be honest I sometimes feel like I am bashing my head against a brick wall. The chances are that no matter what the actual truth is there are people out there who have made their minds up and no matter what will push their agenda to get their moral attitude into everyone else's lives. I have got to the point where this will be the last major post till either someone tries to drive through another change or a major story breaks about Leeds. I want to briefly sum up a few points as I will be tweeting at Leeds MP and Councillor this blog has seen as the original driving force including shaping the working group. This entry is a personal opinion but the statements about crime are based on a 2012 study by myself into crime around SEVs using the Police.UK database, no dragging figures out of thin air. Also I spent 4 years as a senior professional officer in a council and I have seen how councillors can influence officers to operate against their own better judgement, I know because I have done it in covering up for a councillor.

This could turn into a massive rant so I will try to keep the piece as short as possible whilst covering the issues. I will include a couple of responses to FoI requests from Leeds Council, I wont timeline the events rather I will try to use the issues as I see them to guide me in the way I word this.

Leeds Council what responsibility do they take?
Firstly I want to cover the response I got about if anyone checked if there would be any impact to crime in the area when the buildings closed. The response was that as the venues were closed on locality and proximity to sensitive premises (jokes in the comments about this will be fine). The statement was the clubs were not closed because of crime so they didn't analysis it. Which makes the assumption that the venues are the cause rather than a resource that will provide security to the area it is based in. The fact sexual and violent crime has doubled during 6 months in The Headrow in comparison to when the venue were open with security and CCTV running does suggests councils HAVE to take responsibility for the increase because they only view clubs as an issue and failed to acknowledge that the external security for clubs would have an impact in stopping crime. This is something that all councils should be aware of and if I was a victim of crime in the area I would be blaming the council. However no doubt as the Council points out they just didn't have any idea that closing venues could have such a negative impact which suggests a very blinkered attitude.
Leeds Night Life losing something?
Now I want to cover some of the issues that came out of the consultation and citizen panel. The consultation was based on the City of London questionnaire but had been adjusted to be quantitative rather than qualitative. Which is strange as when you look at the figures 48% wanted 4 SEVs or less and 52% wanted 5 or more SEVs, for me if you were going to set a figure then surely the arithmetic mean would be the correct point which would mean there should be 5 clubs rather than 4. The numbers ranged from 1 to 8 or more which is no surprise as the first consultation showed that people DID NOT want a complete ban. Now the e-mail from the council says the information was analysed by the council officer in charge of the citizen panel. This would be a person who would probably be a professional grade rather than management and having been there myself you do feel exposed should councillors decide to flex their muscles, no proof that anything happened just a feeling.

Part of the input into the questionnaire was based on the "Working Group". The working group had Object, a lobby group, represented and no representatives of the actually industry. The two police officers one was a child exploitation officer who was seen as a stakeholder (really that is stupid) and one representing the City Centre which is interesting as the police haven't raised issues about the clubs for child exploitation or that the clubs should be closed. It is therefore even more surprising no one thought of the risks in losing cctv and feet on the street. Section 3.1 said the licensing board put together the working group but tweets from Reeves and Charlwood at the time suggest a heavy involvement.The walk around town discussions with club management which clubs and where? The whole working group issue is one that makes me seethe just a little and I feel for Rosie being stuck in a group that had taken legal advice to ensure that their agenda could be pushed through (not exact wording of course).
After all the research the council still drive their own agenda.
We saw claims be made as a result of the citizen panel, Claims that 85% of the citizen panel was against clubs is a bit misleading as only 32% were against clubs in the city centre. The whole work has been to mislead and drive an agenda. When you add to that the fact that in the consultation there was a standard response template that was used quite a bit. 52 responses (39% of the response used the template). There is no point in the document that I can find that refers to the standard letter being one that the council provided so this would have be provided by Object or another feminist lobby group. Knowing that the consultation could easily be manipulated so that one person could easily make multiple responses the template presents a danger to the democracy. So long as someone clears their cookies in the cache of their web browser then there was nothing that would stop a simple cut and paste and repeat. Yet at no point was this even mentioned, I would have hoped that the Council would have had their eyes opened about these sort of risks of flooding by a handful of moral objectors. Remember one council actually spotted one person sending in multiple letters with different signatures because a template was used so any use of a template could be because of a single individual using the flaw in the council's system.

Finally to keep this reasonably short Having read the response from those against the clubs there is a constant reference to violence against women which there is no proof of in any shape of form in the UK. In section 3.27 the council seem to suggest that they took the Lilith research as valid but ignored press stories. They also mention the West Yorkshire Hollaback as a valid source it seems which I would question the site as it was based around street harassment and it is difficult because a lot of the claims have never been reported to the police so how do we judge how valid the "research" is and of course Hollaback has disappeared from the web so there is no way to check claims and Hollaback was only ever anecdotal evidence. So really the only thing it seemed that the claims were based on was Lilith and as we know that report has been withdrawn and in fact the figures show a drop in rape over 12 years rather than just the 3 years Lilith highlighted (once again based on figures obtained by this blog under FoI).

So to sum up, the whole thing seems to be taking figures and manipulating them. The fact only 32% of people were against clubs in the City Centre and that the mid point of the consultation was 5 clubs rather than 4 hints that people were not adverse to ignoring the public and that the agenda behind closing the 3 venues did not worry about any impact that the closure would make on anything. Sensitive premises would have benefited from CCTV and bouncers but now those protections for the public have been removed and people are suffering an impact of more sexual and violent crime with the blame laying at the feet of the architects behind the closure Rachel Reeves and Rebecca Charlwood in my humble and simple opinion.

TonyN (

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Repeat, Repeat and Repeat Again

So my life can be very boring it seems as I was sitting through a live update on the license application for Chronicles in Reading to get its SEV. All seemed very normal no police objections, 8 letters sent in and only one objector turn up to speak against and that was a worry about noise which he venue covered but at the end when all was discussed the license was refused based on the demeanour of the area. So I started writing this piece about the stupidity of closing venues or stopping new licenses based on an area when there are no objections or at east no really valid objections that are not covered by the application. I was going to post this a couple of days ago but health issues, a family birthday and trying to find out details of a couple of things meant this piece is 3 days late.
No SEV because of the area apparently
Anyway yesterday morning I was checking my mail and a google alert flagged an article in the Yorkshire Evening Post about the 3 closed venues in Leeds and how they have remained empty since they were forced to close. Anyone reading my posts will know that they has been an increase in violent and sexual crimes since the venues closed and my got reaction was they must have opened night clubs or similar but it turns out the building are just empty. Which raises the issue when do morals migrate into excuses? We know that Leeds forced the issue hiding behind the Tour de France starting in the Headrow with two clubs right by the start. So to the rest of Leeds there was this facade that the campaign was all about image rather than morals which we know councils shouldn't raise in these debates.

So we see yet again the stupidity about location. Is there a school near by? Probably in most towns but since when do most schools operate in the middle of the night? We have said again and again this what about the kiddies thing is stupid. How many parents let their kids out in the middle of the night? So long as the clubs use discreet signage and avoid overt language in the names kids won't take a blind bit of notice. The real issue is some parents are imposing their own morality onto the club and this causes unfounded fears. The research is out there, Professor Hubbard's research showed that many people could actually walk past the clubs without even knowing they were there. However this has been ignored by councils who now play the moral guardian game and doing the thinking for the public.

I do get annoyed by having the same stupidity occur again and again. If it was Object and their ilk then yes I can understand it as they will not read up on any research that may show their thinking is wrong in the same way that they wont engage with dancers because the possibility that some real people who know the industry disagree with their paid for ex dancer who co wrote their book that they quote and quote. So if you see a councillor in the press getting on his or her high horse then we must show them that the facts are out there. It becomes a really simple question/message why are councils ignoring academic work? It plays like they are pushing their own agendas which never sits right for me.

Finally just before I was going to publish this I stumbled on an article in a local Barnsley Online Newspaper about a man being attacked near Wildcats. You will note it is near Wildcats not UK Pizza, Sizzlers, The Shakespeare or even Hope House School. The article doesn't claim that the attack was anything to do with the club, which it may be, but it could be anywhere else in the area. Just seems it makes a good story assigning blame without actually being sure who is to blame or why, just no need when a SEV is close by as it it brings a little sex to the story rather than actually trying to report just the facts. This is not the first time we have seen this style of reporting where the first instinct of a reporter is to create a scare about a club without having proof to back this up.

TonyN (

Sunday, April 12, 2015

The Dancer and the Politician No Crime Committed!

I would like to thank Brute for pointing the article in the daily mail (here) out to me that has got me writing again. My health hasn't been as good as I would like but I needed to get back to writing and seeing the article it sort of get me in the mood to say a few things. And it was nice to see all this happening in Tower Hamlets just to rub salt into the wound.

Firstly I would like to explain I have no problems with anyone going to a club even a politician providing they are not campaigning to close them in public, two facedness while a politician (or prospective politician) is expected but to say one thing and do another is going to be an issue for me around the clubs. So if it isn't the fact a guy went to a club on his stag, got drunk and forgot (ignored) the rules what is. I guess for me it is the fact he has been a spokesperson on religious matters and at one point an extremist who is now seeming to be the exact opposite. So I want to split this into two parts now. Firstly the poor behaviour by Nawaz and then I want to pick up on the issue of the daily mail and highlight the case of stigmatisation of someone doing something that is not illegal and that many guys do every weekend (hopefully with more self control).

So your having a private dance in a booth/room with CCTV, your best man has got you reasonably loaded but the fact is the UK is a non contact environment, every time a rad fem claims about bumping and grinding we all know they are lying because we have had a lot of years go past since contact in private dancing was allowed. Seeing the dancer point to the CCTV camera shows she explained the rules and it was Nawaz who was trying desperately to break them. With Nawaz trying to get the contact details of the dancer we run into the issue that rad fems would claim that the details were exchanged to arrange the selling of sexual services. I have had dancer friends who I would go to coffee with just to discuss issues about venues, music, babysitting and a few other problems but nowadays no matter how much of a connection I may feel to a dancer even if we have a hobby in common you can't exchange personal details as no doubt how innocent it may be the imaginative minds of sections of the feminist movement will imagine the trafficking, rape and selling of sexual services no matter how far from the truth it is.

So really the issue here is the breaking of club etiquette which occurs more than we would like usually by guys who are not regulars and who don't really get the why we have to avoid this sort of behaviour. Tell me something an hour ago throw in a couple of drinks and I am not sure that I would remember something I haven't heard other than on one occasion. Perhaps here it would be wise to suggest that unless a customer is a known regular he is reminded of etiquette each time he has a private dance. I would have liked to have seen Nawaz ejected but if it is a stag do we have no idea how large the party was so how much income was at risk if the centre of the stag party was asked to leave. To the club owner/manager who sold the footage I would say bad form on you for selling anything to the daily mail. Finally Nawaz claims to be a feminist and I don't see the issue here except that the terminology is wrong. Equality issomething we all have a right to and the right to choose our employment (if we can). The blog has said in the past over 2 million guys go to clubs each year and I am sure a lot more of us believe in equality than the religious groups who preach sex is a sin. As a quick aside on that point BBC2 in the UK has a 3 part series on sex and the church and part one was well worth watching.

So do I have issues with the Daily Mail? Damn right I do, the wording of the article was so biased you could feel the whole of middle england draw in it's collective breath and breathe a huge sigh. At the start of the article they point out that Nawaz is now married but you only find out digging deeper into the article it was before he got married and he was on his stag. Once again we see the fervour that comes from the traditional religious patriarchy that radical feminism so keenly supports creating a stigma around a perfectly legal evening. The church, and by this I mean all religions that apply moral codes, has guidelines that many of us break and I offer you odds that most of the mail reporters couldn't give a damn about observing religious practices unless it means a free holiday. Yet here we have a right wing "christian" paper commenting on someone not observing a religious holiday, so what, I have seen myself guys who drink, club and gamble when their religion says they shouldn't but here we have an effort by a paper to target someone for doing something legal. So long as the public allow papers to stigmatise a legal profession we are basically supporting the old structure that radical feminism claim they want to break down but in reality they reinforce.

I could go on about the hypocrisy of the daily mail and the breaching of Club etiquette by Nawaz but the guy is as human as the rest of us and the mail is built around supporting the Selfservatives so nothing I can do but bemoan the fact that having ago about a legal but stigmatised job is par for the course in medieval, I mean modern Britain.