CHESTER'S only lap-dancing club has had its licence renewed – to the dismay of campaigners in the city.
The Platinum Lounge on Bridge Street Rows, has been given permission to operate for at least another six months by a licensing sub committee of Cheshire West and Chester Council (CWaC).
An application to renew the licence had been rejected by a full committee in September last year but a judicial review found the council had bungled its decision-making procedures.
Under the council’s constitution, the decision was meant to have been taken by a panel of three councillors rather than the full committee.
The refusal was overturned and yesterday it was revealed that members of the general licensing sub committee had unanimously decided the club should keep its licence, subject to several conditions.
Campaigner Deborah Lomas, of fair trade shop Rainforest on Watergate Street Rows, said: “I feel extremely let down once again by the council. After making such a grave error in last year's hearing, which we won, to then have to go through the whole thing again has been exhausting.”
Unable to oppose Sexual Entertainment Venue (SEV) licences on moral grounds, campaigners had argued that such a nightspot was out of keeping with the historic setting of the Rows, which are often used by families and children.
Members stated they were content that since the club opened in 2005, no licensing issues or enforcement activity had been taken against it by either the police or the council.
They were also happy the club was responsibly managed and there was evidence it had taken appropriate steps to deal with any complaints brought to its attention.
A council spokesman said: “The sub committee had to decide on whether there was an issue relating to the protection of the character of the Rows and that part of the city centre and whether the club’s presence was consistent with the council’s vision for the area.
“It was not considered that a sufficiently clear or compelling case had been articulated to persuade members that, at the current time, the club was incongruous or in conflict with its location.”
However, Mrs Lomas told the Leader: “They say they have operated since 2005 without any licensing issues but this new [SEV] legislation only came about in 2010.
“Before then they were licensed in the same way as coffee shops.
“This shows they have no understanding of the seriousness of this law, which was apparent at the hearing when the chairman made a flippant remark about it being no different behaviour than when the Romans were around. Aren’t we meant to have progressed as a society since then? Our council obviously thinks not.”
Under conditions of its licence, lap-dancing cannot start until 6.30pm, rather than 5.30pm, on race days to avoid shoppers and children being exposed to the business.
All promotional materials will have to be be approved by the licensing authority, including those visible from outside when the shutters are open. The club must also take reasonable steps to clear discarded promotional material at the end of the night.
Noise will also be closely monitored and it was suggested the club should communicate, and possibly arrange meetings, with the White Friars Residents’ Association and other businesses to discuss any issues.
Vanessa Bond, of the White Friars Residents’ Association, said: “Sadly this decision demonstrates why Chester will never be a Bath or a York. The decision makes a mockery of CWaC’s SEV policy, a mockery of the One City Plan and a mockery of residents’ right to protest.
“Naturally we are disappointed. We are not against an SEV, just an SEV in that location.”
The owners of the Platinum Lounge, Bridgerow Ltd, have not been available for comment.
See full story in the Chester Leader