Renewal of Eastbourne strip club licence opposed on equalities grounds

Opposition has been raised to the renewal of a strip club’s annual licence on the grounds it would breach the council’s equalities policies. 

Monday, 20th January 2020, 2:30 pm
The Embassy nightclub in Pevensey Road, Eastbourne (Photo by Jon Rigby) SUS-190310-100347008
The Embassy nightclub in Pevensey Road, Eastbourne (Photo by Jon Rigby) SUS-190310-100347008

On Thursday (January 23), a panel of Eastbourne Borough Council’s licensing committee is to consider an application to renew a Sexual Entertainment Venue licence for Lux – a yet-to-open strip club above the Embassy nightclub in Pevensey Road.

However, the application is being opposed by the Eastbourne branch of Soroptimists International – a group which describes itself as working to “improve the lives of women and girls”.

In a letter to the council, a spokesperson for the group said: “As Soroptimists, we aim to help transform the lives and status of women and girls by advocating for equity and equality and creating safe and healthy environments.

“How does a strip club in the centre of Eastbourne help us achieve our goals? 

“Ventures like the proposed strip club do little to promote the town as a desirable place to live, work and visit. 

“Approval of such premises by the council is a totally unacceptable development in the 21st century in a town seeking regeneration and focuses on financial gain rather than the wellbeing of residents of our town.”

The group goes on to argue the club would go against the council’s equality and fairness policy to ensure all individuals feel “valued, safe and protected”.

This view was considered by council officers as part of an equality and fairness report, which concludes it should form part of the panel’s considerations.

The report says: “Although the establishment may have both male and female employees as well as clientele, there is concern around such establishments perpetuating gender stereotypes and working against the progress to advance equality within the protected characteristic of sex. 

“Despite the lawful status of Sexual Entertainment Venues, the committee should be minded to weigh up its licensing capacity with the potentially adverse impact on the protected characteristic of sex, principally women and girls in this context.”

The club was first granted its licence in December 2018 after it was approved by a licensing panel in July of that year and is required to renew it each year.

Its original licence was amended in September, as owners said its terms made it impossible to find an operator willing to take it on.

These terms included a prohibition on full nudity and a requirement for performers to stay one metre away from customers.

During that application, representatives for the club argued a ‘no touching rule’ would be easier to enforce and that customers would expect full nudity, as it was the normal practice in strip clubs in other parts of the country

Representatives also noted that Home Office guidance also states that local authorities should not consider objections that are based on “moral grounds or values” when considering such applications.