Tuesday, May 31, 2016

York Consultation, Nothing to Report Here

So last year we had a consultation for York City Council on SEVs and the right number for York. No results were published and nothing was discussed at any of the council meetings. So I sent in a FoI request for a copy of the results and having looked at them I sort of understand the issues that faced the council and why  they have left the results on the back burner. I am happy that a couple of issues are clearly identified from the report and I think these are key to the reason that the council has not gone forward with the report and it is something to remember for all future consultations.

First and probably most importantly the first question asked to what extent do you agree it would NOT be acceptable for a lap dancing club to operate in and then lists several locations. The one thing that stuck out though was the last one was Not in any locality, which is styled after the Leeds second SEV consultation. Approximately 32% of respondents strongly agreed with that statement whilst 48% were strongly against. There was a smattering across the agree/neutral/disagree but it was clear just from this question there was not going to be an overwhelming support for closing clubs. I had posted on bulletin boards for the local football clubs to discuss the consultation amongst other things and especially how the questions were styled after Leeds council which shaped its questions to try and close venues. This is important as it will come up later in the piece.

The fact that there is no majority at the outset obviously makes any attempt to reduce numbers or enforce a nil policy almost impossible, we therefore can expect this report to be buried because the council is likely to keep things as they are. There is no strong push for any change and the fact people were prepared from what happened in Leeds, I hope, shows the positive impact blogs and individuals can have in protecting the industry.

Question 2 asked open questions so people could write comments to locating SEVs and what comes out is people have been commenting on the structure and wording of the question. It becomes a message throughout the comment sections on all the questions. Certainly the questions were structured like the second Leeds consultation and I think once people had the issues explained common sense took hold. Certainly Sunday league football bulletin boards are a good place to recruit support and it is a good place to get people over excited about councils using questions to shape the end result. Leeds has taught us a lesson and it is one I will continue to point out when consultations come out but I do need people to let me know if they hear of any as I am only human.

Now the reverse of people questioning the structure and wording of the questions was the fact that some people amongst those against the clubs were putting moral objections. We were not informed of the percentage of respondents who use morals as a reason to object to clubs but as the report was not put before the committee it is likely to matter, however if the report was to go to the committee you would expect the members to have to disregard all the respondents who who morals as a basis for their objections to the clubs. I intend to raise another FoI so I can get the number of respondents who used moral arguments because it would be interesting to understand the impact to those against the clubs if you removed the moral objections. Also I would love to know how many people raised the issue of the structure of the questions, 37 people said they would look at the questions and comment if they felt it needed to be commented on. Would be nice to know how many actually did.

One thing that seemed to be missing from the report is question 5. Not sure why this was missed but I will be adding it to my FoI request as a follow up. Of course as soon as I get the updates I will let people know.

TonyN (tonyprince@acdcfan.com)

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