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City council moves to tighten grip on sexual entertainment venues
SEXUAL entertainment venues are being discouraged from opening in Worcester - with councillors saying they are worried about "exploitation".
Worcester City Council wants to launch a detailed policy with strict rules to protect staff working in them.
The blueprint, which is now out for 12 weeks public consultation, includes:
- Stringent checks on the date of birth and passport information of any workers in a bid to stamp out people trafficking
- Regular enforcement checks to monitor any staffing movements in and out
- External advertising will only be allowed if it is deemed "acceptable to the council"
- The council has the powers to refuse the locations where any sexual establishments can launch, taking a raft of criteria into account including an area's heritage and nearby schools, parks, homes, libraries and places of worship
The policy, which has been in the making for months, will go out to the public for feedback and is expected to be agreed by full council.
It was given a ringing endorsement by the city's licensing committee on Wednesday, with councillors saying the time is right for a firm policy.
In recent years more and more lapdancing clubs have opened up across the country and back in March last year Worcester had its own, after Black Cherry in Lowesmoor started trading.
The new policy is not in response to any concerns about that venue.
Councillor Richard Udall, speaking during the licensing committee meeting, said: "I've no moral concerns about the industry, it's a legitimate one.
"But I do have concerns about protecting people who work at these places - around the country trafficking exists, compulsion exists, violence exists - I'd hate to think that could happen in Worcester."
Councillor Lucy Hodgson said: "These places have got to be environments where people choose to work and are looked after.
"I welcome this, it should go out for consultation, we've waited long enough for it."
Councillor Jo Hodges said: "One thing we know is that there will be more applications to open sexual entertainment venues in the future.
"Without a policy, should an application be turned down there would be more grounds for an appeal."
Councillor Roger Knight said it was "absolutely the right time" to do it, saying he didn't want Worcester to become like "Soho".
As your Worcester News revealed on Monday, the council has adopted national legislation which tightens up the rules on gentleman's clubs.
When Black Cherry opened, the club was allowed to trade without a sexual entertainment licence after the council failed to accept the legislation when it had the opportunity.
That loophole closed in November after the authority adopted relevant sections of the Policing and Crime Act 2009.
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