Sex clubs no laughing matter

I READ with some interest the comments made by councillor Geoff O’Connell as reported on page 3 of the Northumberland Gazette about the change in legislation regarding the siting of lap dancing clubs.

Although anyone with any sense of humour would have a wry smile at the headline, I do hope you will find time and space to outline the more serious aspects.

Northumbrian members of BPW (Business and Professional Women UK) supported the campaign, lead by a woman Durham MP, to have the law changed so that sex establishments come under the same laws as those which apply in London.

Perhaps the comments made by councillors from the various parish councils are fortuitous just before election time as it shows which councillors are in touch with their local people and which ones are not.

Perhaps you would find it helpful if I filled in a little background information.

By what seems now to have been a slip of the pen, any venue which holds a licence for entertainment and a licence to sell alcohol can become a lap dancing venue.

In London it would require a separate licence such as those held by sex shops and sex cinemas and which of course cost over eighty thousand pounds.

What women in Northumberland have been campaigning for is that the decision where sex establishments, such as lap dancing clubs can open reverts to local councils for their decisions.

We are not in favour or against lap dancing clubs. We are very much in favour of local people making local decisions.

Roberta Blackman Woods MP became involved when lap dancing clubs opened in what most locals thought were unsuitable sites in the centre of Durham.

As it stands, lap dancing clubs could open next to Warkworth castle, on Holy Island or in Belford village hall.

Most people believe councillors should decide where they can open.

Hopefully they will not choose sites close to schools, village halls or a rape crisis centre.

And if they do, then local people will be able to say what they think of the councillors’ decision through the ballot box.

So, although I assure you the women in Northumberland have a good sense of humour, I do hope you will take this issue seriously and support those Northumbrians who have worked to raise this matter at the highest levels, despite intimidations from those who see their profit margin threatened.

Sue Ashmore

National President