Not for Sale – Council rejects lap-dancing club application in Portsmouth

Women are not objects
Posted September 3, 2014 by
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Aurora New Dawn was proud to be among a group of 7 deputations made to Portsmouth City Council concerning the relocation of lap-dancing club Elegance to a property on Albert Road.

The Council’s Planning Committee voted unanimously to reject the application from local lap-dancing club owner, Paul Ojla.

We have a number of reasons why we object to the application.

First and foremost, Aurora New Dawn supports the women’s bodies are not a commodity to be bought and sold, acknowledging the United Nations’ Convention to Eliminate Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW), which calls on the government to reduce the objectification of women to advance gender equality.

This requirement was highlighted by remarks from the UN Special Rapporteur earlier this year, who said there was “a more visible presence of sexist portrayals of women and girls” and a “marketisation of women’s and girls’ bodies” in the UK, which was more pervasive than elsewhere.

The Gender Equality Duty (2007) places a legal obligation on Portsmouth City Council to ensure that their decisions do not have a negative impact on women’s equality and require the Council to actively promote gender equality and to work towards countering gender stereotypes.

Lap-dancing is an industry staffed almost exclusively by women for male clientele, so the Council’s policy on lap-dancing falls under the Duty. Recognition of the gendered nature of the industry played a role in the campaign for the Council to introduce an SEV Policy for the city, which was passed in 2012.

The SEV Policy commits the Council to a ‘Nil Cap’ on any further lap-dancing clubs in the city. While Elegance has a license for its premises in Granada Road, as SEV licenses are non-transferable, re-locating the club would trigger the Council’s nil cap policy.

The proposed site is immediately adjacent to the Wedgewood Rooms, a nationally well known and popular performance venue attracting large numbers of young people, including under 16s, making it wholly inappropriate as a location for a sexual entertainment venue (SEV).

Although the decision was made unanimously and supported by a local campaign led by councillors, Mr Ojla is entitled to appeal the decision.

Speaking about the appeal, Shonagh Dillon, Chief Executive of Aurora New Dawn, “We’re delighted that the local campaign against the move has been so successful.

“If Mr Ojla decides to appeal, we look forward to campaigning again to uphold the decision, and ensuring that Portsmouth City Council keeps its own SEV licensing policy, approved in 2012.”

Aurora was an active partner in the campaign to introduce the SEV policy, alongside the Solent Feminist Network and local residents.

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About the author

Writer in Residence

Sarah Cheverton is Aurora New Dawn's Writer in Residence and a freelance writer and researcher. As well as writing the copy for the Aurora website, Sarah works with the Aurora team on consultation responses, communications and service evaluations. She also works as a Co-Editor for feminist news site Women's Views on News.

See all of Writer in Residence's articles — 40 total

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