Cabinet backs clampdown on new sex clubs in Tower Hamlets

Lap dancing and strip clubs in the East End could be under threat if new plans to clamp down on them are given the go ahead.

A ‘nil policy’ for new sex establishments was voted through by members of Tower Hamlets Council’s cabinet last Thursday.

But councillors say the 11 existing premises currently licensed as sexual entertainment venues will be able to carry on providing strip tease and lap dances.

Deputy mayor Cllr Ohid Ahmed explained that the zero tolerance policy is a response to complaints by residents about sex clubs in the borough.

“The logic is I think we have already enough in the borough because there is a lot of people complaining against it,” he said.

“It’s not very nice for somebody to live next door with their children where people are having sex businesses.”

He insisted existing clubs would be allowed to continue providing lap dances and strip teases “if they do not break conditions”.

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But lawyers representing several East End strip clubs said the changes would mean establishments – some of which have been operating for almost 40 years – will have to apply for a new type of licence under the new regime.

Gareth Hughes, of Jeffrey Green Russell solicitors, said: “When you get to the application for the licence they could very well find some spurious reason to refuse it, so I have concerns that the assurances given may not be enough.

“Any lap dance venue would always be near a school, or a mosque or something like that. There’s certainly a moral and religious objection to them, but no crime and disorder; otherwise police would have been involved in it, and they are not,” he added.

The policy must still be signed off by the council’s Licensing Committee on October 8 before it is implemented.