It’s Chasmal here and its been a long while since my last post. Let’s face it, TonyN has been doing sterling job on the blog, but nonetheless, sometimes there are things that I read about that I think deserve some attention on the blog. The first of these is about an application to open a club in Worcester in an area called ‘The Butts’ – (not joking, it’s really called that). Business man Ash Patel had a plan to refurbish a grim and run down set of premises that at some time in the past had been a nightclub.
Then things got weird……
Worcester Council decided in 2009 to adopt The Police and Crime Act 2009, from which the current SEV framework sprang from. Well, they decided to adopt the powers, but by the time the next council meeting came around, it seems they forgot to do it and as a result, horror of horrors, Ash Patels proposal to turn a derelict eyesore into a lap dancing club could only have been considered under the prior legislation. In other words, had he pursued the application, he would have been preparing his club for a Christmas opening as you read this article.
Then it got weirder…..
The Chair of the Licensing Committee is Cllr Paul Denham. He has a wife, Cllr Lynn Denham who is the ward councillor for the area where Mr Patels club was going to be opened. Lynn was vehemently opposed to the club and had said so. Therefore hubbie Paul decided to pull out of the meeting to decide the future of Mr Patels club.
There was apparently masses of local outrage. In fact retired senior local government official and father-of-three Adam Scott expressed his horror….
“……I was appalled to see that there is an application for a pole dancing club being made on The Butts. It proposes being open for seven days a week, all night long, where men can go for sexual gratification…..”.
Outraged father of three Mr Scott also said…
“This is completely unsuitable in such a location that is used by many young people (near a library complex with a bar) and is right opposite the houses of Magdala Court. Whether you agree with the morality of such places or not, it’s something we don't want to see anywhere in the city centre and certainly not here.”
All of this can be found at this link (http://www.worcesternews.co.uk/news/10502757.print/) in an article published on 23rd June 2013.
But there is an issue here, because it turned out that Mr Scott was absolutely a ‘retired senior local government official and father-of-three’, but it what he is now that has relevance. Confused? Please read on…..
Cllr Lynn Denham was a very busy bee behind the scenes in the summer, because she had sent a letter to virtually everyone that lived in the ward that explained that she was fighting the proposal for a club in The Butts.
The letter, written on paper with an official city council letterhead said she was being “helped” in her campaign by Adam Scott, a resident and it urged people to contact him if they shared her worries. The letter said that Mr Scott could “help residents draft letters” of objection and answer other questions.
What the letter did not say was that Mr Scott is a Labour party organiser and campaigner, as well as a former council candidate, having fought the St Peter’s seat at the county council elections in May.
Concerned citizen Mr Scott is also in line to stand again for Labour in next year’s city council elections in the Cathedral ward. Mr Scott is apparently widely touted as being Labour’s community organiser in the city centre.
What are the issues here?
Well both Lynn and Andy are members of the Labour Party and it is possible that to see an interesting combination of interests being served here. It could be argued that the mere fact that the letter was written on Council notepaper implies that the City is against, on principle, lapdancing clubs, which it is not because of the existence of due licensing process. I suppose if one has a fertile imagination, it is possible to conceive that maybe Lynn was told about the licensing screw up, decided to shake some action and build some opposition and remembered someone who lived in the ward…….
Ash Patel decided to withdraw his application to open a club in The Butts, but is still looking for suitable premises in Worcester. The total number of objections was 13, how many were inspired by Andy Scott, is unknown.
Cllr Lynn Denham is currently under investigation for her activities in this matter. She has expressed concern about a ‘smear campaign’ against her. No worries Lynn, no one needs to do that because you already smeared yourself….
Now let’s move north and return to Leeds. Lots and lots of things have been going on in Leeds in the past few months.
You may know that Black Diamond applied to extend its premises upwards. They were granted planning permission. The story is covered in detail by the outstandingly good blog, ‘The Leeds Citizen’.
The planning committee found no reason to deny the club its planned extension. In fact, they stated categorically that lap dancing clubs in Leeds city centre “rarely result in complaints of public nuisance”. They went onto say that “It is understood that music levels associated with such establishments are significantly lower than that of a typical city centre bar,”.
The police had no objection to the club at all….
Remember that Leeds is fighting to close clubs on the basis that they might affect children. Well the planning committee had something to say about that as well….
“The position of the building relative to the city centre attractions for young people is such that pedestrian footfall in this part of New Briggate is low,” the report says.
“Further, as the building’s windows are blanked out; no external reference to the nature of the use within the building are allowed; and given the proposed hours of use (between 9pm and 6am) it is not considered that it would be readily evident to children and young people what the premises was used for,”
The committee looked at the suitability of lap dancing clubs in general in Leeds..
“…………The premises are located within the Entertainment Quarter where UDPR policies seek to focus evening entertainment and associated uses. The nature of the use is an entertainment use opening during the night-time and consequently, in principle, the use reflects the type of use identified in the Development Plan…………”
Then the committee looked at the moral issue…..
”…… In principle, any consideration which relates to the use and development of land is capable of being a planning consideration, but whether it is in any given case will depend upon the particular circumstances. The courts are the arbiters of what constitutes a material consideration and have held that public opposition per se is not. In cases where fears or concerns are genuinely held by members of the public, these may constitute a material consideration but case law suggests that such fears would have to be shown to relate to material considerations, or be objectively justified or have land use consequences in their own right. Moral objections to developments, such as those involving gambling, drinking or sex, are given little weight in decision making unless there is some tangible land use or amenity impact deriving from such activities which can be shown……”
It’s an interesting paragraph. Almost seems to send a message to the Licensing Committee doesn’t it. Not that they took any notice of it because they denied its license application anyway, but it wasn’t a straightforward process.
The licensing hearing was set to take place on September 16th, but when the clubs representatives turned up they noticed that one of the panel was Cllr Karen Bruce, whose husband seems to spend his spare time campaigning against lap dancing clubs in Leeds. Mind you, Cllr Karen has been campaigning against them since 2008 and the Chair of the Licensing Committee, Becca Charlwood has made no secret of the fact that she wants to see them all closed.
Isn’t there some issue about conflict of interest or doesn’t Leeds Council see fit to follow it?
Now back to the present. The Licensing Committee meeting on the fate of the other 6 clubs was held last week. A decision will be announced within two weeks. Let’s take a look at the objections for Purple Door and see who made them and what they had to say….
Objection 1. ‘Anonymous’ – Quotes Lilith.
Objection 2. Kirklees Rape and Sexual Abuse Counseling Centre. – Quotes Lilith.
Objection 3. ‘Anonymous’ – writer refuses to go into Leeds town centre because of the clubs.
Objection 4. ‘Anonymous’ – Quotes Lilith.
Objection 5. ‘Anonymous’ – Quotes Lilith.
Objection 6. ‘Anonymous – Quotes Lilith.
Objection 7. RASAC South London – Quotes Lilith.
Objection 8. ‘Anonymous’ – Says very little.
Objection 9. ‘Anonymous’ – Quotes Lilith.
Objection 10. ‘Anonymous’ Quotes Lilith.
Objection 11. ‘Justice for Women’ – Sensible enough not to quote Lilith.
Objection 12. ‘Anonymous’ – Doesn’t quote Lilith but has great map that explains why every club should be closed as they are close to everywhere where they can do harm.
Objection 13. ‘Anonymous’ – Quotes Lilith.
Objection 14. SARSVL – Original piece of work that doesn’t quote Lilith.
Objection 15. ‘Anonymous’ – Doesn’t quote Lilith but has the same map as Objection 12.
Objection 16. ‘Anonymous’ – Doesn’t say a lot, but at least it doesn’t quote Lilith.
Objection 17. ‘Anonymous’ – Doesn’t quote Lilith.
Objection 18. ‘Anonymous’ – Doesn’t quote Lilith but like Objections 12 and 15, goes on about historic buildings.
Objection 19. ‘Anonymous’ – The best objection so far as it presents a mathematical formula that expresses the extent to which women avoid the immediate area of a venue. Written by a maniac who admits they dislike clubs on moral grounds, so they can fuck off then.
Objection 20. ‘Anonymous’ – Doesn’t quote Lilith.
Objection 21. ‘ Anonymous’ – Quotes Lilith.
Objection 22. ‘Anonymous’ – Quotes Lilith.
Objection 23. ‘Anonymous’ – Quotes Lilith.
Objection 24. ‘Anonymous’ – It’s the historic building objection with the map.
Objection 25. ‘Anonymous’ – It’s the historic building objection with the map again.
So we have 25 objections, but if I marked the objection number above with the phrase ‘Quote Lilith’ it is because not only does it quote a totally discredited report, the text of the objection is exactly the same. It’s a boilerplate and it appears 11 times. The historic building proximity objection appears three times, so it’s a boilerplate. I disagree with boilerplates for the simple reason that it is clear a group of self interested individuals have colluded and in this case they are all almost certainly connected with Object.
I spent some time going through the objections for the other clubs, they are all the same objections received for Purple Door. So basically it’s all bullshit.
In July of this year I predicted that Wildcats and Red Leopard would get the chop. I didn’t anticipate Black Diamond, but I still say that Wildcats and Red Leopard will be lined up for license refusal.
That said, both Red Leopard and Wildcats have stated publicly that will initiate legal action against Leeds Council if they are refused their licenses. Both clubs have very good lawyers and wouldn’t be making statements such as that unless they thought they had a very good chance of winning their cases.
I note in the article in TheLeedsCitizen blog that covers Red Leopards reaction that there were 25 objectors and none of them turned up at the Licensing Committee hearing. Hardly a surprise…..
If Becca Charlwood and Kaz Bruce are stupid enough to deny any clubs their licenses they are going to end up in court. I look forward to this. There is nothing I would wish to see more than these two lose their cases and cost Leeds Council a great deal of money in the process.
I gather that Rachel Reeves is now the Shadow Employment Minister and has earned the condemnation of a number of trade union officials because of her hard core views about the way that the unemployed will be treated under labour. Maybe she plans to try out her plans on the 750 people that will lose their jobs if the campaign that she initiated to close every club in Leeds is successful.
So that’s it from me for a while. I imagine I will be back to examine the outcome of the Licensing debacle in Leeds, until then, thanks for supporting the blog.