Blackpool’s lap dancing clubs to be banned as councils wants ‘family image’

Blackpool councillors have approved plans to ban lap dancing clubs in the town to build a more family-friendly image.

Club operators have said that the decision puts dancers at risk, with one saying that the "risk of sexual assault and financial exploitation" is "alarmingly high" if the industry goes underground.

While the existing four clubs in the seaside Lancashire town will be allowed to remain open, their licences will not be renewed once they expire.

The ambition to purge the town of sexual entertainment venues was first revealed in January this year and gathered pace following public consultation.

The updated policy was approved by the Licensing Committee in September and has now passed the final hurdle after it was agreed by the council’s executive.

The existing four clubs will be allowed to continue operating, but once those licences lapse for any reason they will not be renewed.

Additionally, only one sex shop will be allowed to trade in the town in future once existing licences have run their course.

Councillor Neal Brookes, cabinet member for enforcement, public safety, highways and transport, told the executive: “As a white ribbon accredited authority and a family friendly destination, we are working towards a zero limit on the number of sexual entertainment venues and lap dancing clubs."

White Ribbon is an organisation to reduce violence towards women. But operators of the existing lap dancing clubs in Blackpool, which are Eden One, Eden Two, Heaven and Sinless, had warned the restrictions could drive lap dancing underground.

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Ashley Sayers, whose family has operated Eden Two on the Promenade for 14 years, said: “[Dancers] will be tempted, if not forced to work in places such as hotels for private bachelor parties where their risk of sexual assault and financial exploitation would be alarmingly high.”

Other changes within the revised policy include tighter controls over how dances are paid for, and a ban on dancers taking mobile phones into performance areas.

CCTV must be able to store recordings for a minimum of 21 days.

The policy, which was last revised in 2016, will be effective until 2026 when the next review is due.

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