Bristol's two strip clubs seek sex entertainment licence renewal despite proposed ban

By Adam Postans

Bristol’s two lap-dancing clubs are reapplying for their sex entertainment venue (SEV) licences – despite the axe hanging over them.

Councillors will decide whether to approve the permits, which have to be reviewed every 12 months, for Central Chambers on Thursday (September 16) and Urban Tiger the following day, even though public consultation is set to be launched over a proposed citywide ban.

A total of 67 objections have been lodged for each application, according to Bristol City Council papers.

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Licensing committee members voted by 7-6 in March to seek the views of residents, campaigners and interest groups on both sides of the argument into a draft new policy including a “nil cap” on SEVs, meaning no strip clubs would be allowed in the city, although the consultation has still not yet been launched.

While that rumbles on, two separate hearings of the licensing sub-committee will be held at City Hall into the parallel licence renewal applications.

Mayor Marvin Rees and Bristol Women’s Commission support a ban and say the venues cause harm to women, while the strippers themselves and Bristol Sex Workers Collective insist they should have the right to choose what they do and that this empowers women.

The council’s current licensing policy allows a maximum of two SEVs in the city centre – sister clubs Central Chambers in St Stephen’s Street and Urban Tiger in Broad Quay – and a third in Old Market/West Street, although the area does not have one anymore.

A report to the sub-committees said: “There is a presumption in the legislation that applications for a licence will be granted unless there is a statutory ground for refusal.”

It said the panels of three councillors should have regard to any objections, as well as the chief constable’s comments, although none had been received from the latter by the time the papers were published a week ago.

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