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Campaigners urge Tower Hamlets Council not to include the White Swan in sex club ban

PUBLISHED: 14:55 31 January 2012 | UPDATED: 16:28 31 January 2012

The White Swan in Commercial Road

The White Swan in Commercial Road

Archant

Supporters of an East End gay club are battling to stop it being included in a hit-list of sex establishments the council wants to shut down.

Around 750 people have signed a petition to exempt the White Swan in Commercial Road from Tower Hamlets Council’s plans to crackdown on any venue offering lap-dancing, pole-dancing or sex shows.

Campaigners, who first presented the petition in November, now accuse town hall chiefs of ignoring their concerns as they have had no response despite being told they should receive one within 28 days.

The White Swan’s popular Wednesday nights sometimes feature male strippers but the campaign group is arguing there are “no advertisements that could offend passersby” and “no prostitution or sexual activity of any kind”.

Daryl Stafford, leading the campaign, said: “If we live in a truly multi-cultural society where people truly respect the lifestyles of others this simply would not happen.

“The venue has run its comedy male amateur strip night for 26 years without a single complaint.”

Jack Gilbert, of LGBT group Rainbow Hamlets, said: “If they are making an argument that something is a social nuisance or has a history of causing anti-social behaviour and exploitation then the White Swan does not meet any of these criteria at all.”

Stopping Wednesday entertainment could put the business in jeopardy as it one of the venue’s most profitable nights, campaigners say.

Residents and businesses are being consulted on the plans.

Mayor Lutfur Rahman said: “Local opinion has previously been overwhelmingly weighted against having sex establishments in our community.”

A council spokeswoman added: “There was a record number of responses to the consultation and it was clear that residents felt strongly about the matter. No decision has been made in relation to which premises would be deemed to be sex establishments.”

The council – recently named among Britain’s top 100 employers for lesbian, gay and bisexual staff in a list by Stonewall - is drawing on legislation introduced by the government in 2009 which gives local authorities more powers to regulate sex establishments.

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