So the title gives it away, but before we go on to celebrate, lets take a closer look at the antics of All Saints Church, particularly their petition on Change.org.
The petition letter is lengthy and I will only refer to the parts of it that are absurd.
I just signed the following petition addressed to: Warwick District Council.
Impose a "Nil Cap" on Sexual Entertainment Venues
We, the undersigned, call upon Warwick District Council to impose a “Nil Cap” on the number of Sexual Entertainment Venues (SEVs) within the WDC area, to apply to future SEV applicants.
We support a Nil Cap on SEVs for the following reasons:
1. Community safety, welfare and cohesion
Leamington Spa and Warwick have evolved over centuries to comprise of many mixed use spaces where retail and industrial premises are located alongside residential areas and community amenities. There are very few spaces where an SEV would not have an impact on nearby stakeholders.
WDC recognises in its own SEV policy that SEVs can cause disturbance, anti-social behaviour and a fear of crime. Police in Newquay recently reported that the presence of strip clubs had contributed to rapes and other forms of sexual assaults in the area (The Daily Telegraph, May 23 2012). Objectors to both the recent “Shades” and “Amara” SEV applications in 2012 cited incidents of being intimidated and/or threatened by sex industry patrons. This is especially relevant for the elderly, the disabled and women, the latter of whom may be more likely to be victims of a sexual assault in the vicinity of SEVs than other urban areas (The Lilith Project, 2007).
A nil cap would reassure residents that WDC regards the safety and welfare of community members as an utmost priority.
The above paragraph is a great example of either flawed reasoning or deliberate hysteria. 'Shades' had no issues with violence or anti-social behaviour associated with it all and by invoking Newquay, they fail to mention that the police when pressed had no evidence for assertion about clubs and rape. If anyone had been intimidated in the vicinity of Shades, then maybe they should have reported it to the police, that way their objections would have had substance, but once again as we have seen in so many cases, its all anecdotal. Perhaps the most amazing thing is that Lilith is still being quoted, but almost everyone knows now what garbage it is.
2. Economic growth and prosperity
Many local businesses are struggling to survive in the midst of a double dip recession. The sex industry unfairly tarnishes broader areas with an image of sleaze, prostitution, crime and degradation. This reputation drives away trade from areas which depend on a welcoming, family friendly image to attract custom. Research from the Local Government Association in 2012 supports this, indicating that 76% of council officers surveyed blamed strip clubs for undermining high street economic growth.
A nil cap would reassure local businesses that WDC is committed to supporting economic growth, particularly in the more deprived areas of the district which require regeneration.
I do not know why people associate lap dancing clubs with the sex industry, actually I do know why, it sounds dramatic and creates images of prostitution and trafficking, which as we know are bullshit. I would love to see this much quoted sentence 76% of council officers blame strip clubs for undermining high street growth. What metrics were applied to reach this solution? Almost certainly none apart from maybe one that deals with ignorance and bigotry.
3. Historical and contemporary character
Every year, millions of domestic and international tourists come to visit the West Midlands “Shakespeare” country. Tourists frequently include a day trip to Leamington Spa to enjoy its Regency-era splendour and award winning gardens, and Warwick to visit the castle, tea rooms and race course (amongst other attractions). Period dramas such as the BBC’s “Upstairs Downstairs” have chosen Leamington Spa as a location specifically because of its beautifully preserved Belgravia-style Georgian architecture and Victorian gardens.
Well I somehow doubt that lap dancers will somehow be seen performing in the background during the next episode of Upstairs Downstairs.
The presence of the sex industry lowers the public reputation of the surrounding district. The negative publicity brought upon the area by WDC’s decision to grant an SEV licence to “Amara” has left residents – who pay a substantial financial premium to live in such a desirable area – feeling disenfranchised by WDC’s decision to let the sex industry tarnish the town in which they live.
A nil cap would reverse this trend and act to preserve the historical grandeur and sophistication traditionally associated with the WDC area.
In terms of the reputation of the surrounding district, I have to say that if the protesters and church had kept quiet, no one outside Leamington Soa would even know Shades and Amara even exist. So don't blame innocent parties for something that you started off.
The rest of the letter goes on about their desire for a 500 metre radius exclusion zone for clubs and we dealt with that piece of stupidity yesterday.
Anyway, back to the story. John wrote into the councils Licensing Team with a detailed letter that supported Shades (third) License application. Let's have John take up the story....
Amazingly against all the odds the Leamington Shades SEV application has been approved 3rd time lucky. Really wasn't expecting that! It's quite interesting that they have specified which Cllrs voted for or against. See press article here.
This time they did include my solitary letter of support, which I have been informed that they spent a long time discussing the points I raised at the hearing (just goes to show that it is worth writing in). There was also a petition supporting the club too and approval from the police. There were some 50+ objections a lot using common themes like it being a residential area but then going on to say that there will be a number of 24 hour religious festivals that will take place at the nearby temple. That's a bit of a contradiction of arguments as if it's a residential area then surely there can be no 24 hour parties either. Appears to me they were grasping at straws with that one to try and make out that there was never a time when the club could operate when the temple was closed. Also had to love the ones that used the excuse of feeling unsafe walking past the club to access the boxing club! Really? The classic case of violence is fine but nudity is bad!
Really poor objection letters on the whole with a lot of copy and pasting.
John makes a very important point early in the above paragraph. It is absolutely worth writing in to support club licence applications and it seems as if his contribution may have helped swing the balance in favour of Shades.
Predictably there has been local fallout. Reverend Wilson of All Saints Parish Church described the decision to grant the licence as a 'slap in the face for Leamington' and an 'affront to democracy'. I find his second comment to be the most amusing, his idea of democracy must the council doing as he tells them, but like Rachel Reeves in Leeds, he has found that Licensing Committees take their job seriously and most of all are absolutely not fools.
Outrageously, the article claims that the prohibitionist campaign had 'more than 600 signatures'. Well below is a frame grab taken from the petition site today (18th August 2012).
Well as you can see its actually more than 390, which is a significant difference and represents a departure from the truth, but the truth was never a comfortable bed fellow for the prohibitionists.
So, a victory for common sense and a defeat for religious inspired bigotry, but before we go I would like to share with you a frame grab I spotted on the churches petition website.
Let's put aside the fact that Paul Gilligan doesn't understand what goes on inside a club. Let's focus on his belief that 'sex is not entertainment'. Well Paul, if sex isn't entertainment, what is it? You must have a really horrible sex life if that's what you believe and furthermore, like an alarming number of prohibitionists, you can't spell.