War on strip clubs in Islington

A WAR is being waged on strip clubs in Islington – with council bosses vowing that no more will be allowed to open.

There are already five strip clubs in the borough – including one of Europe’s largest lap dancing bars – and Islington Council has decided that enough is enough.

Councillor Paul Smith, Islington Council’s executive member for environment, said: “We don’t want endless sleaze swamping our communities. We think there are enough so-called ‘sex encounter’ venues in Islington, we don’t need any more and we’re going to be tougher in regulating those already here.

“The council intends to adopt a policy to limit the number of new sex encounter venues in the borough to nil, and this puts us in a very strong position when dealing with any future applications.”

There are currently five lap dancing clubs in Islington – including For Your Eyes Only in City Road, Finsbury, which offers fully nude table dancing and claims to be the biggest venue of its type in Europe.

In recent years, other venues have also tried to open – with Club Imperial in Seven Sisters Road, Finsbury, trying to lay on striptease and the Archway Tavern attempting to bring pole-dancing to its Archway roundabout pub. Both bids failed.

Until now strip clubs – unlike sex shops – have not needed to apply for a specific sex licence, meaning councils could only turn down applications if they felt a strip club would cause crime, nuisance or a danger to children and public safety.

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But that loophole has now been closed.

New legislation enacted by the previous Labour government is finally allowing local councils to license strip clubs as sex venues – and Islington Council plans to take advantage of the change in law to stop any more from opening.

Emily Thornberry, the Labour MP for Islington South and Finsbury, was instrumental in calling for the loophole to be closed.

She said: “This loophole has now been closed and the law has changed. Now we are trying to get councils to use it.

“It’s fantastic news that Islington is and it’s not before time.

“It’s a shame that we can’t shut all the sex clubs down. They attract crime, they humiliate women and they are not the sort of thing we want to see in Islington.”

The news has been welcomed by residents – and the borough’s existing strip clubs.

Stephan Schulte, of York Way, King’s Cross, who has campaigned to clean up King’s Cross of sleaze, said: “The people of Islington have made it clear that enough is enough and the council has apparently heard them and is taking appropriate action. In King’s Cross, we have one strip venue – The Flying Scotsman – and that’s enough.”

Glenn Nicie, the owner of For Your Eyes Only, said: “Our type of business does have a finite clientele so it would be sensible to put a cap on the number of premises – and I am bound to say that five venues is about right for Islington.”

But Reverend Jennifer Potter of Wesley’s Chapel in City Road, which is opposite For Your Eyes Only, warned that imposing a cap may drive strip clubs underground.

She said: “At the moment strip clubs are considered in the same way as bars and it would be good for them to be given specific sex licences. And if Islington Council is considering setting a limit of nil, I would be very happy.

“But if all councils were to say that we don’t want these things, we will drive it underground and it will be more difficult to regulate.”