Monday, December 15, 2008

What the fuck is a "sex bistro"?

Much important stuff going on in the world of Watching - something on Aaro's shitting the bed re: Menezes inquiry later today I hope. But in the meantime, some light relief (no, not that kind of relief).

By the way, why was Nick "working in Soho kitchens" in 2007? I am pretty sure that no journalistic output resulted from it. (nope, it did, although the Gay Hussar appears to have become pluralised).

PS: It is 1936 and Michael Gove is Churchill (scroll down)

21 Comments:

Anonymous organic cheeseboard said...

nick's standard columns are pretty funny generally. Witness this week where he's decided that a racial discimination caase should be thrown out based on the identity of the defendent's lawyer. But the 'sex bistro' one is brilliant, nimbyism dressed up as feminism. He says he deosn't want to ban soho strip clubs but the only reason he's opposed to the 'sex bistro' is:

Islington council will not be able to say it cannot hire strippers because there are families living nearby and a school across the road.

For a start - unles Nick actually lives on islington high street, this isn't 'his street' at all. But in any case, no families live in soho and there are no schools there, are there? Actually there's a thriving primary right in the middle of Soho. Equally what's the problem with late-night sex shows in a restaurant opposite (ie not opposite) a school? is this a 24 hour school?

12/15/2008 01:17:00 PM  
Blogger Matthew said...

"Which is why I ask, what lessons from the Thirties do we still have to learn?"

Surely one great elephant of one is that Britain is no longer the unrivalled world power that it was in the 1880s?

12/15/2008 01:18:00 PM  
Blogger ejh said...

Is Michael Gove up for "do what the bankers say and you'll never get out of a recession"?

12/15/2008 02:23:00 PM  
Anonymous Simon said...

But the 'sex bistro' one is brilliant, nimbyism dressed up as feminism.

Actually I think his point is reasonable, even though the headline is funny. It's fair to attack people for nimbyism if, say, they don't want an affordable housing development near their property, but I don't see any great social need for lapdancing which requires the government to tie the hands of local authorities in the way Nick describes. If Islington doesn't want a, er, "sex bistro" in its midst then it ought to be allowed to prevent it.

12/15/2008 03:12:00 PM  
Anonymous organic cheeseboard said...

Anyone else note the deeply dodgy undertone in this sentence?

the year we failed to remove Mugabe even after his people voted for change

Did Cameron and Gove's Tories really argue for military intervention in Zimbabwe after the election? Is Gove seriously arguing that every election decision which fails to be followed by the powers that be, in every country in the world, should be enforced by the British army? Or is this yet more bullshit posturing and bluster? He complains about cutting spending on defence but if we folowed his advice we'd be spending everything we have on defence - mind you, we'd probably also be looking into the deeply suspicious elections in Georgia that got Saakashvilli into power - an election Gove is untroubled by. What is the point he's making?

Also - anyone else find it funny how often Decent calls to arms are located under 'seasonal' polly filler hogwash? Evidently TGISOOT isn't quite as important as office party decorum...

12/15/2008 03:15:00 PM  
Anonymous organic cheeseboard said...

I see your point Simon - but where the article falls down is where he says 'keep it in Soho'. If what's he's suggesting is local communities having a veto on any kind of adult entertainment near their houses, then fine, but if so then what's the limit on being a 'local resident'? This isn't actually happening on Nick's road by any stretch of the imagination. And equally, this shoudl be a column about how the residents of Soho should have the right to say no as well - but Nick seems to be suggesting that all this stuff is fine as long as it happens away from schools. But there are schools in Soho. And quite why a 'sex bistro' with the sex part only happening at night should affect the day to day runnign of a school is hard to understand.

12/15/2008 03:31:00 PM  
Blogger Bruschettaboy said...

I don't see any great social need for lapdancing which requires the government to tie the hands of local authorities in the way Nick describes

The thing is that, as usual, Nick has got the wrong end of the stick. Any local authority in the country is allowed to turn down or put more or less any sorts of conditions it likes on a licence application for either an alcohol licence or a music & dancing premises licence.

Also, it should have been obvious to all concerned that this was a fuck-up, because the whole point of the objection is that there's no such thing as "an application to Islington Council for permission to stage exotic dancing" - the entire point of the Fawcett Society, Julie Bindel et al is that strippers &c are dealt with under the normal premises licence regime rather than having a special category of their own

12/15/2008 03:39:00 PM  
Blogger Bruschettaboy said...

Also note that there is no "London Borough of Soho" - what there is, is an understanding at LB Camden and LB Westminster councils that they will operate a different standard of licensing in that part of London than they would in other, more residential areas with no history of being entertainment centres. And they are able to do this, because they do in fact have precisely the discretion over planning powers that Nick says that they don't. This is a bit of a common misconception.

12/15/2008 03:41:00 PM  
Anonymous Simon said...

If what's he's suggesting is local communities having a veto on any kind of adult entertainment near their houses, then fine, but if so then what's the limit on being a 'local resident'?

I think he was just suggesting an expansion of the powers of local authorities to stop lapdancing clubs from opening. In that case local residents would self-define when submitting their objections, and the licensing committee can decide whether they agree with them. At present, because lapdancing isn't designated as "sex encounter establishment", it's difficult for a council to sustain an objection to a lapdancing club merely because it is a lapdancing club.

12/15/2008 04:04:00 PM  
Blogger ejh said...

I don't suppoose Gove is interested in invading you-know-who?

12/15/2008 04:08:00 PM  
Anonymous Phil said...

At present, because lapdancing isn't designated as "sex encounter establishment", it's difficult for a council to sustain an objection to a lapdancing club merely because it is a lapdancing club.

Should it be easy? Personally I think lapdancing clubs are vile & would happily see them banned by Act of Parliament, but I'm not sure about doing it by stealth in this way. If councillors (or officials) believe that a new lapdancing club would be a bad thing, surely they should be able to make a case as to why this lapdancing club would be a bad thing in this street.

12/15/2008 04:18:00 PM  
Blogger Bruschettaboy said...

At present, because lapdancing isn't designated as "sex encounter establishment", it's difficult for a council to sustain an objection to a lapdancing club merely because it is a lapdancing club.

In all honesty I don't really see much wrong with this policy - any local authority can sustain an objection to a lapdancing club, they just have to be prepared to argue that there's some person whose interests would be harmed materially by granting the application, and that this harm can't be mitigated by conditions. If one's not going to take the (IMO entirely defensible) Julie Bindel position that lapdancing clubs are intrinsically wrong and shouldn't be allowed at all, then this seems like a sensible definition of the distinction between local democracy and Nimbyism.

After all, there are popular cases like affordable housing for nurses, but the law, like the yellow pages, is also there for the nasty things in life like strip clubs and bail hostels (which lots of people also don't want anywhere near them). If something is a legal business per se, then it ought to be given a fair shot at trading if it doesn't harm anybody, and if a local authority is going to arguing that setting it up in a particular location would harm somebody, they ought to have to justify that decision. I'm not particularly a fan of the arbitrary power to refuse "sex encounter licences" either.

(Small caveat: IIRC there are some quite complicated questions relating to refusals based on "too many of that kind of establishment nearby already", which is grounds for turning down a SE licence but not a premises licence unless I am mistaken. There might be some grey areas to sort out there, but I cannot believe it's a pressing real-life problem at present).

12/15/2008 04:21:00 PM  
Anonymous Simon said...

There have been cases where local authorities have introduced a 'special policy' whereby they can indeed refuse a premise licence on the grounds that a particular area is saturated - or rather, that the licensing committee is allowed to 'take into account' the existing number of licensed premises, which gives them carte blanche to refuse new applications.

I take the appoint that LAs should have to make the case against specific proposals on their own merits, but Nick's point - which I basically agree with, even if he doesn't understand the relevant laws - is that it is presently very difficult to make a qualitative case against a lapdancing club specifically relating to problems associated with lapdancing clubs, rather than more general problems associated with licensed premises. I don't think it is unreasonable that local authorities should be allowed to recognise lapdancing clubs as a separate case and that they should be able to demand stronger conditions from licensees before they grant a license, should they so wish.

12/15/2008 06:18:00 PM  
Anonymous bb said...

it is presently very difficult to make a qualitative case against a lapdancing club specifically relating to problems associated with lapdancing clubs, rather than more general problems associated with licensed premises

I think that most of the sources for this are councillors saying it's the case rather than primary sources; certainly if one looks at the minutes of LB Islington's decision to deny the Archway Tavern's application for a variation of its premises licence to allow lapdancing, they seem to be referring to specific policies (018 and 019) which refer to "adult entertainment".

12/15/2008 07:01:00 PM  
Anonymous dd said...

Specifically, actually, I keep turning up cases of councillors with blogs saying "it was really difficult for us to refuse the application for XXXXX lapdancing club but we managed it", and so far not a single case of "we really didn't want to grant the application for XXXXX lapdancing club but we had no option". I'd be really interested in any examples. I mean, I'm sure that local councillors would indeed love to have the totally arbitrary power to make politically popular decisions with no possibility of review, but I don't think we should give it them; like Phil I'd rather see lapdancing clubs banned entirely than have a system that's more or less guaranteed to generate corruption and reward nimbyism.

12/15/2008 07:05:00 PM  
Blogger Captain Cabernet said...

Any local authority in the country is allowed to turn down or put more or less any sorts of conditions it likes on a licence application for either an alcohol licence or a music & dancing premises licence.

I'm afraid you're wrong about that one BB. When Nick's column first appeared, I consulted with Mrs Cabernet, who knows her licensing-law onions, and was surprised to discover that it can be pretty hard for LAs to turn down applications these days.

12/15/2008 09:54:00 PM  
Anonymous dd said...

It depends on what you mean by "pretty hard" - Islington did in fact manage it in the case of the Archway Tavern, and as I say, I'm really not aware of any cases in which a council ended up forced to allow a lapdancing club against its better judgement. I think that a lot of people are using as their baseline the bad old days when councils could just capriciously turn applications down flat without giving any sort of bona fide planning reason at all, and IMO it ought to be "pretty hard" compared to that.

12/15/2008 10:05:00 PM  
Blogger Captain Cabernet said...

You'll find the current position as set out by one local authority here:

http://tinyurl.com/5oqr58

(see esp sec. 6)

Whether you are correct to say that councils could stop more if they were really determined, I can't say. But, of course, they might well be advised that spending a lot of money fighting appeals is not a great idea.

12/15/2008 10:25:00 PM  
Anonymous dd said...

On the other hand here's the Haringey policy, which according to these guys is basically enforced as a de facto ban. Probably not safe for work (or indeed home). And AFAICT (from a cursory google search, stop sniggering you bastards), there are indeed no lapdancing clubs in Haringey[1]

I think that the basic state of play is as set out in the Bristol policy (have I done the joke about "Bristol City" yet?) - that post the 2003 act, simple local moral disapproval is not a valid planning reason. Like Phil, my intuition is that I'm cool with that, and that if something ought to be banned, it ought to be banned properly, elsewise there ought to be a requirement to explain exactly what the harm done is.

Re: Simon's point, I notice that a large part of the case for turning down the Archway Tavern's application was that the owner had no experience in running an adult business - ie, LB Islington were cool with him running a pub but did, AFAICS, recognise that there were special and obvious other issues with running a lapdancing club, which they believed him not to be up to.

[1] No licenced ones anyway.

12/16/2008 12:25:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sorry, this is an unrelated comment, but I see Alan NTM is taking Andrew Bostom as a serious scholar of Islamic history:
http://www.democratiya.com/interview.asp?issueid=15

Bostom is a medical doctor from the US, who is popular at places like Robert Spencer's Jihad Watch for his anti-Muslim books.

12/16/2008 04:22:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

i don't mind haringey council stopping those knobends from getting their kicks.

however, there are a fair few brothels in the borough. so it seems a bit odd that they take such a hard line on strip clubs.

in my oppinion, the betting shops and whacko churches should be restricted because they are arguably as socially damaging - especially these bastards http://www.uckg.org who were hangin around argos this afternoon

fatbongo

12/16/2008 07:01:00 PM  

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