City action group joins lapdance club protests

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A GROUP which represents residents in Sheffield city centre has joined protests against a proposed lapdancing venue.

The club - called Wildcats - would be set up in the former Steelhouse bar on the corner of West Street and Carver Lane.

Bosses want to open a sexual entertainment venue with booths, a table and dancing poles.

But Peter Sephton, of the Sheffield City Centre Residents’ Action Group, said members had drawn up a list of objections and submitted them to the council.

“Women in these clubs are self-employed and pay rent to work. This leads to intense competition between performers to gain the attention of male customers.

“Within this context women report feeling pressurised to provide extra sexual services in order to earn a decent wage,” the group said.

“These establishments are sexually exploiting women for profit. Is this what we want in Sheffield, which has long stood up for equality of the sexes and people in general and against exploitation of any kind?”

Members also objected to the lapdancing bar’s proximity to other popular attractions.

“It is close to one of Sheffield’s major tourist venues – the City Hall – and adjacent to an important Supertram stop. This gives the wrong impression to city visitors.

“The business also opens its doors in the middle of a very residential area, and over 150 properties are situated within a few feet of the club.”

The group said West Street was ‘totally unsuitable’ for sexual entertainment venues, and raised concerns about an ‘Amsterdam-style sex industry’ developing.

“West Street is already turning into Wild West Street for alcohol consumption.

“Do the councillors now want it to develop into a Berlin Reeperbahn-style street, where there are strip clubs, sex shops, brothels and a sex museum?

“Evidence shows that in certain locations lap dancing and exotic dancing clubs make women feel threatened or uncomfortable.

“There is a duty on public bodies to encourage gender equality. Allowing the introduction of this business contravenes this policy.

“SCCRAG is examining an application for the reduction of Council Tax for city centre residents, on the basis of a lowering of living standards due to later night-time activities being permitted by the council with an adverse impact on city centre living.

“If this business is allowed to open it will add strength to that application.”

Developers Barrett and Barrett Architects said they could ‘see no reason’ why the plans would not be approved.

“The venue will have a variety of uses, as well as a traditional bar serving alcohol and non-alcoholic drinks and snacks. There will be a striptease show with the dancing girls doing a strip on the stage or dance pole and private dancing for individual customers in the private booths.

“We see no reason why the proposals would not be fully supported by the planning department.”