Anger ahead of decisions over new licences for Norwich lap dance clubs

Sugar and Spice in Prince of Wales Road is among the venues seeking a new licence. Photo by Simon Fi

Sugar and Spice in Prince of Wales Road is among the venues seeking a new licence. Photo by Simon Finlay.

Decisions will be made this week over licences for four Norwich lap dancing clubs, but opponents say their voices have not been heard.

Government legislation introduced in 2009 gave councils power to regulate sex entertainment venues (SEVs), such as lap dancing clubs, sex shops and sex cinemas.

And in March 2010 Norwich City Council's licensing committee agreed to adopt the legislation which would allow them to make their own policy on the issue.

But only now is the council starting to award SEV licences.

Lace, B52 and Sugar & Spice, in Prince of Wales Road, and Platinum Lace, in Dove Street, have all applied. At the moment they are covered under the Licensing Act.

The council's licensing committee will make decisions on Friday, but the Green Party argued councillors and residents had not been informed and, by the time they had learned of the applications, the consultation process had closed.

Among those who felt they were denied the chance to object was Helen Dawson, who lives near Prince of Wales Road.

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She said: 'Norwich City Council refused a petition now signed by more than 300 people asking for the consultation process to be extended to allow them to comment. It has failed to run an open, informed and reasonable consultation.'

Ms Dawson said Prince of Wales Road had a culture which was 'unpleasant and intimidating' and the impact of SEVs and consumption of alcohol 'cannot be discounted' in crime.

She added: 'SEVs impact on children leaving primary and other schools in the area. The presence of lap dancing clubs sends damaging messages to children and young people. These clubs affect people on the periphery, not just their customers.'

Police have not objected.

The council said the applications had complied with advertising requirements - notices notice outside the premises and newspaper adverts, with 28 days for representations.

Kevin Maguire, Labour's cabinet member for safe city environment, said at a meeting in July he was confident the 'process is a robust and transparent one' and that members of the committee will make a decision within legal parameters.

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