Cheltenham Borough Council
Cheltenham Borough Council

Hello, please sign in to your account. New customer? Creating a new account only takes moments.

find our main contact details and opening hours or find our location.

Agenda item

Adoption of revised Sexual Entertainment Venue Policy

Report of the Cabinet Member Development and Safety

Minutes:

The Cabinet Member Development and Safety introduced the item as per the published report.  He explained that the revised policy did not take a moral position on sexual entertainment as it was permitted by law. Under the 2009 Act, sexual entertainment could take place by law under certain conditions without the requirement for a licence permitting the activity.

 

He reported that there had been a minor change the Policy, as outlined in Section 7 of the report. This encompassed the lower end of Bath Road and the High Street, at this was a location for an SEV. There were new conditions to provide additional protection for staff.  Consultation on the revised policy had taken place between November and January, with limited, but not particularly negative, feedback.

 

Councillor Harman proposed the following amendment:

 

“Council believes that there is no place within the Borough of Cheltenham in which it would be appropriate to licence a sexual entertainment venue. 

Therefore Council resolves to adopt a nil limit of sexual entertainment venues for the whole of Cheltenham Borough implemented through smaller relevant localities.  The relevant localities would be each of the twenty wards in the Borough to ensure that the characteristics of the relevant localities are taken into account.”

 

In speaking to the amendment, Councillor Harman explained that the last time this was debated by Council, it was lost by only one vote. He emphasised that Members should be free to express their own views, and that action was needed to deliver equality for women. He reiterated his belief that Cheltenham should not be a venue for SEVs.

 

One Member stated that passing the amendment would be a political and dangerous step.  While he sympathised with those opposed to the policy, it was the best practice to have a policy to regulate sexual entertainment. He suggested that national government had let local authorities down by including a loophole which allowed any premises to put on sexual entertainment once a month. This could allow businesses to move regularly to other venues, putting more people at risk and making the town more dangerous.

 

In seconding the amendment, Councillor Cooke emphasised that although adults should be free to choose, the easier you make it to visit these premises, the more likely you are to have more of them.

 

A point of clarification was then raised by the Chair of Licensing who explained that the debate regarding changing the rules for SEV’s included contributions from the police, GRASAC (Gloucestershire Rape and Sexual Abuse Centre), Chelt Fems, operators, performers and ward councillors.

 

Councillor Harman then summed up by stressing that the proposal was not political, and thanked Councillor Cooke for seconding the motion.

 

The amendment then went to a vote and was lost.

 

For:                  3

Against:           23       

Abstentions:    2

 

The following points were raised on the substantive motion:

 

-       One member noted that this was the final step to complete the licensing review.  Evidence was taken into account from all involved, including performers, operators, the police and local churches. The Member wanted his thanks to all involved formally minuted.  There had been evidence gathering sessions involved, and the police would come straight to the council with any problems or concerns.  The member added that there had been a lot of scrutiny involved in the matter, and they had never come across any performers under duress. He added that Two Pigs were happy with the proposed amendments, performers stated that they feel safe, and that there were adequate changing facilities and security. To protect young people, there would be a Challenge 25 rule on the door rather than simply under 21 – i.e. anyone who looked under 25 must provide photo ID. Exchanging of social media details would be prohibited, along with any other personal details, which would deter any accusations of illegal activity.  To highlight the risks of modern slavery, coercive control and abuse information would be provided in the changing areas, readily available to all the performers.  The Member stressed that this was the best they could do within the current framework.

 

-       One member confirmed that he had visited SEV’s with the licensing team and had generally been very impressed with them. He offered his praise to the licensing committee and licensing department for all their continual hard work, emphasising that if venues are permitted in the town, it is far better to be involved and have them properly regulated.

 

-       Another Member who sat on the Licensing Committee and was involved in the working group wished to comment that the performers felt very well looked after and made it clear that they preferred it if premises were licensed.  They also wished to praise the Licensing team for all their hard work on this matter.

 

The Cabinet Member Development and Safety summed up by stating that other Members had supported the case well.  He confirmed that there was no real demand for SEVs outside of race week, but if the policy was not adopted then there would be no control and no proper regulation. He acknowledged that it was an emotive topic, but stressed that this was the pragmatic approach, and recommended that the Council support it.

 

 

RESOLVED THAT

 

1.    the consultation feedback be noted;

2.    the revised policy document attached at Appendix 5 be approved.

 

For: 22

Against: 0

Abstentions: 6

  

Supporting documents: