RESIDENTS have been given new power to challenge lap dancing clubs in their area.
People in Huddersfield will soon be able to oppose applications for clubs on the grounds that they bring down the character of their neighbourhood.
The move follows news that a new club is planning to set up in the town.
As part of new rules introduced this week to give communities a greater say over their impact, councils now have the power to close existing lap dancing clubs and block new ones. The venues are now classed as sex establishments rather than pubs or cafes, meaning they have to apply to their council for a new licence to be run legally.
Local authorities will have the option to impose a wider range of conditions on the licenses and to limit the number of establishments in a particular area.
Clr Christine Iredale, chair of Kirklees Licensing committee, welcomed the move. She said: “This is positive news, it gives the council more control over these clubs. I believe a new club is looking at opening by the casino at Folly Hall, so it will be interesting to see what would happen because they would come under the new licensing laws.
“These kind of clubs aren’t for everyone and if one opens up in a person’s neighbourhood I think it is only right that they get more of a say in how it will affect them.”
Huddersfield has two lap dancing clubs, which are Wildcats on Kirkgate and Centrefolds at Lockwood Road.
A third, La Salsa at Beast Market, was stripped of its licence in March following concerns raised by police.
Under the legislation, part of the Government’s Policing and Crime Act, both new and existing clubs will have to apply for a new licence.
Licences range in cost from £4,000 to £30,000, depending on the council.
Chris Knight, from the Lap Dancing Association said the changes could affect many businesses.
He said: “It is an extra cost and has to be renewed annually. Indeed some local authorities will see it as a bit of a golden carrot.”
But Clr Iredale believes the changes may make clubs think more carefully about opening their doors.
She said: “It may put people off, but hopefully it will make clubs think more carefully about going into a new area and expanding because they’ve got to get their licence.”