Plans to open a strip club in Eastbourne have been given the go ahead by councillors.
Last night (Thursday, September 26), Eastbourne Borough Council’s licensing sub-committee approved proposals to open a strip club above the Embassy nightclub in Pevensey Road.
The club, known as Lux, was actually first granted its premises licence in July last year. But it never opened for business, with owners saying the terms of the original licence made it impossible to find an operator willing to take it on.
As a result, club owners asked for a number of conditions to be changed, including the removal of rules both preventing full nudity and dancers from performing within a metre of customers.
As part of its deliberations, the committee heard from James Rankin, a barrister acting on behalf of club owner Gino Forte.
Mr Rankin said: “Table-dancing may not be everybody’s cup of tea and it may be that one disapproves of premises such as these.
“But that isn’t the job of this committee. The job of this committee is not to pass a moral judgement, the job is to regulate these premises because government has provided for them.”
As part of his argument, Mr Rankin said the original conditions were “outdated”, with strip club operators and customers expecting clubs to operate in a different way.
Mr Rankin also argued the nature of the club meant would not be likely to pose a public nuisance from customers leaving.
He said: “What tends to happen is that middle-aged men go in, they spend all their money on dances, they spend very little on drink.
“They then find themselves outside the premises wondering what on earth has happened and embarrassed and the last thing they want to do is draw attention to themselves.”
The changes requested, however, saw some concerns raised by committee members.
Cllr Candy Vaughn (Lib Dem, Langney) said: “I want to ask how you can possibly say that in Eastbourne full nudity will be fine, when you haven’t even had the licence up and running that you have actually got?”
Cllr Vaughn also raised concerns about removing the one metre rule. She said: “Surely the people who are doing the dancing, whether they are male or female, will know that if somebody comes [closer than] one metre away from them, then they can stand back.
“If they know someone is not allowed within a metre of them, then they can take that dance away and still protect themselves.”
In response, Mr Rankin said the intention of the condition was to prevent customers from touching the dancers, with the one metre judged to be length of a man’s arm.
He said this could be better achieved through a simple “no touching” rule, which was easier to enforce.
He said: “In theory, it makes perfect sense to have a one metre distance between the dancer and the customer.
“But in practice what on earth is the point in maintaining that as a condition when many councils up and down the kingdom have removed [it].”
Mr Rankin also said dancers would be kept safe by security staff and CCTV, with anyone breaking the no touching rule to be kicked out of the club.
He also argued that customers would expect full nudity as it was the normal practice in strip clubs in other parts of the country.
The restriction on full nudity also prevented Mr Forte from finding an operator to take on the running of the club, Mr Rankin said.
After withdrawing to consider their decision, the committee agreed to approve the variation of licence conditions as requested by the applicant.