Hackney Council shows ‘nil’ love for sex establishments

Recently Hackney council invited residents to have their say about a ‘nil’ policy being proposed for adult entertainment in Hackney. In essence it means no more licences will be granted nor will existing ones be renewed, when they come up for renewal.

The consultation which began last month will end December 13th and will ask the Council to adopt the revised policy on January 26th.

A reasonable proposal one might think if the borough was besieged with adult venues, but currently Hackney has a total of 5 adult establishments, all located on the southwestern tip of the borough, which is densely populated and the hub of what is a world renown night clubbing scene.

Four of them  offer lap dancing, some totally nude. They are: The White Horse and The Rainbow Sports Bar both on Shoreditch High Street, Browns and Ye Olde Axe on Hackney Road. The other is a discreet adult store – Expectations on Great Eastern Street that caters more to the gay community.

To the best of my knowledge none of them have ran afoul of vice laws such as prostitution, which would usually guarantee criminal prosecution,  revocation of license and closure. So why is Hackney Council proposing a ‘nil’ policy for adult entertainment venues and not betting shops which are more detrimental to the community?

Lap dancing clubs  or sex establishments – as Hackney Council prefers to call them, are venues fellas go to watch scantily clad girls gyrate.  We aren’t talking brothels which exist in Hackney, aren’t licensed and offer sex. They are often targeted by dangerous criminals who pose as punters, but once inside will rob and rape.  Something that doesn’t occur at lap dancing clubs or sex shops.

Yet according to Cllr Chris Kennedy: “The Licensing Committee is proposing a ‘nil’ policy on licensed sex establishments as we do not believe they fit with the character of our town centres and neighbourhoods.”

The premises he refers to are all located on densely populated high streets, alongside night clubs, Kebab shops, restaurants, greasy chicken and chips take-aways and other business premises.  They are not easily accessible to kids and pose no threat to them, in fact a 12 year old in Hackney can buy a gun much easier than gain entry into an adult establishment.  So just who are these businesses hurting?

Pauline Bristow owner of The White Horse on Shoreditch High Street says: “If a nil policy is introduced, we will have to let go of our staff, who depend on us for a living. That will be more people claiming benefit. Our establishment has never been a problem. ”

One resident told Hackney Hive about the yobbish group of punters who go to the lap clubs for their stag nights, he said: “They get themselves in quite a state and can be a problem for us who have to witness it.” Others talk about the men who frequent it. There was a time ‘City boys’ would entertain clients at the lap dancing clubs at lunch time, often putting it down as expenses, but since the credit crunch all that changed. Now it’s a different type of customer.

Bristow, who closes her club, The  White Horse, at midnight says her flat above the White Horse is next to a bus stop and she is awoken at 4 am when clubbers are pouring out of the night clubs. She said  “the noise and chaos can be quite unbearable.”

Regardless of who frequents lap dancing clubs, there are women who depend on the money they earn.  One of them who spoke to Hackney Hive is a 21 year old Uni student said: “This is worrying for me as I find I can fit dancing around my education easier than other part time work.  I also don’t have to work as many hours as I would have to in a more tradition job, to make the money I do.”

Another young woman, a 26 year old single mother of  two said: ” I live 10 minutes away, I can not support my children on benefits. Does Hackney know they will be taking away jobs?”.

Adult establishments are not the only businesses having their licensing policy reviewed. Licensing of alcohol sales, music, clubs, late night sale of hot food and drinks will also be reviewed, but none of them are being targeted with a ‘nil’ policy.

The ‘nil’ policy appears to be a cowardly way of targeting an industry whose female workers are already marginalised and wouldn’t get the type of support the usual suspect NIMBY’s this borough is known for.

In their proposal summary (which is peppered with ‘Sex’ in every paragraph as if to nail it home) they site resistance from residents, but if that is the case then why not apply the same policy to the other clubs in the area that also have had resistance from residents.

You can see more of the document here

About Remi Makinde

Remi Makinde Hackney Hive founder, publisher and contributor. Hackneyite and all round Girl Friday, who couldn't wait to leave Hackney and London behind her. After hitching her wagon in California, Texas, New Orleans, Louisiana for 18 years, with a brief spell in Mexico, the prodigal daughter returned happy to put an unconventional and risqué past behind her. She is owned by her two dogs Deffer(a Jack Russell & Darcy a Jack Russell/Pomeranian mix) and runs a London based pet sitting business. The big smoke is home for the moment, but she desperately yearns wide open spaces, where she hopes to call home in the near future.

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5 Responses to "Hackney Council shows ‘nil’ love for sex establishments"

  1. sortedinnit  07/10/2010 at 11:43 pm

    “We aren’t talking brothels which exist in Hackney, aren’t licensed and offer sex. They are often targeted by dangerous criminals who pose as punters, but once inside will rob and rape. Something that doesn’t occur at lap dancing clubs or sex shops.”
    Actually, research shows that when a sex establishment, such as a strip-club, opens in an area, assaults and street harassment of women in the immediate vicinity increase. For this reason (and lots of others, to do with respecting the fact that women are human beings and should be treated as such), these places should be banned. It’s not as if they are serving any need in the community. They add nothing to the community and they detract from womens’ safety.

  2. Thierry Schaffauser  08/10/2010 at 1:45 am

    I have been a sex worker for 8 years and I have lived in Hackney for 2 years. Please don’t close the adult venues as many workers depend on them to earn an income.
    Sex workers are human beings like other people. We deserve the same rights as any other worker and citizen. We can’t be put out of work just because of some people’s moral conception about what is right or wrong around nudity. The law should not be about sending a message to religious and prohibitionist groups but to support the workers.

  3. The Duchess Of Hackney  08/10/2010 at 8:18 am

    @sortedinnit typical feminazi codswollop. Show me the research that says this and what it is based on. No doubt the research was carried out by a bunch of feminists with an agenda.

  4. Thierry Schaffauser  08/10/2010 at 5:06 pm

    It’s good if the council use the license to have better rules for workers’ condition but a ‘no policy’ will just push the venues to operate without licensing like some already do and where the workers’ exploitation is actually the worst. We can resolve safety issues if the venues have to collaborate with the council but prohibition will not resolve anything, just give some people good consciousness.

  5. Remi Makinde
    R Makinde  12/10/2010 at 11:34 am

    To: sortedinnit , I assume you are the same person who has sent me angry messages. I don’t think much of a lot of commonly accepted ideas, so my views on sex work may come across as bias, as someone pointed out to me last week.

    There are groups including academics who would like you to think that these women are all victims or are being exploited and need to be rescued. Not the case. Many women decide to do it, they are not coerced in any way. For some it may not always be their first choice, but how many of us have jobs we hate yet stay.

    I’m not denying there isn’t an ugly side to the adult business, there is and I have witnessed it. There is also a criminal side to it, such as human trafficking and drugs, unfortunately a lot of them operate under the radar…Strip joints and the adult store in Shoreditch on the other hand do not operate under the radar.

    It’s not the men that frequent these places these gals have to be worried about, it’s people like you with preconcieved ideas who look down on them and feel that it’s your place to tell them what to do with their minds and bodies.

    At the end of the day, like it or not, sex is a commodity and always has been.

    An interesting conversation on mumsnet http://www.mumsnet.com/Talk/womens_rights/1038837-Why-shouldn-t-sex-be-a-commodity/AllOnOnePage

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