Agenda and minutes
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There were none.
Declarations of Interest
Councillors Clark, Willingham and Seacome attended a site visit earlier in the day, supervised by officers, the applicant and his solicitor.
The Chair explained the process for the benefit of those present, then asked the Licensing Team Leader to introduce his report. He highlighted the following points:
- the application was for an SEV licence for 13-17 March, at Under the Prom, 109 Promenade, and included a request for the disapplication of Standard Condition 1 (regarding hours of operation) and removal of Standard Condition 6 (regarding solicitation and advertising);
- the application complies with parliamentary legislation, which is very clear about mandatory and discretionary grounds for refusal. The licensing of a SEV falls under the council’s Public Sector Equality Duty, but while such establishments may raise concerns about objectification and equality, the council cannot take a moral stand;
- there is no objection from the Chief of Police, eight objections and 59 emails of support from the public;
- the premises are situated outside the designated permitted area, so if Members are minded to permit the application, they must provide cogent reasons for going against the council’s stated policy;
- concerns about potential noise have been raised and addressed by the Environmental Health team; it would be disproportionate to refuse on the basis of noise;
- Members must decide whether to grant the application, grant the application subject to additional conditions, or refuse the application.
In response to a Member’s question, the Licensing Team Leader confirmed that there has been correspondence in the past relating to the venue, which operates as a nightclub, but these have been resolved to the satisfaction of the Environmental Health team. The applicant can respond to any further questions on this issue.
The Chair invited the GRASAC representative to speak in objection to the application. She said that, backed by evidence, her organisation believes strongly that most victims of sexual violence are women and most perpetrators are men, and that this is rooted in inequality. In terms of consent, sexual entertainment venues spread harmful attitudes and ultimately pose a risk to women, both in area and around the venue. In the 2021 CBC survey about safety in race week, 70% of those who answered said they didn’t feel safe. GRASAC’s objection is based on the belief that all women should have fair choices and be supported, and that men who attend SEVs then leave in an intoxicated state with no regard for the women in the local area, put them at greater risk. Research shows that harmful sexual behaviour often starts slightly and then escalates if not stopped, and there is evidence from women in race week, including those giving out fliers, that they are groped, grabbed, touched and threatened; a volunteer from Cheltenham Guardians has confirmed that they are extremely busy in race week, intervening many times to stop men from cornering women.
In response to a question from the Chair, she confirmed that she understood that Parliament had made sexual entertainment a lawful activity, although this didn’t go hand-in-hand with the Home Office strategy to tackle violence against women and girls.
The Chair invited ... view the full minutes text for item 3.
Any Other Items the Chairman Determines Urgent and Which Requires a Decision
There was no other business to consider.