Petition to be launched to limit numbers of sex clubs

CAMPAIGNERS against pole dancing clubs in Leamington have vowed to seek public support after an attempt failed to prevent any more opening.

Warwick District Council’s regulatory committee last week blocked an attempt to put a brake on more clubs after Court Street pole dancing club Amara was granted a licence in April.

Now objectors are preparing an online petition for a ‘nil cap’ - a presumption against new licences.

Those backing the measure include Labour councillors, Green Party politicians and All Saints vicar the Rev Christopher Wilson, who fears that by granting Amara a licence, councillors weakened the definition of a residential area.

He said: “It’s not just south Leamington. Leamington, Warwick and Kenilworth have been potentially opened up to sex tourism.”

Cllr Alan Wilkinson (Lab, Brunswick) said 14 councils had adopted caps and asked the committee for a “timely, proportional and responsible” consultation that could make a cap “legally robust” if done properly.

Citing a consultation in Coventry, Cllr Barbara Weed (Lab, Leamington Willes) argued for caps for each ward and suggested defining an appropriate proximity to prevent arguments every time applications were debated.

But officials, backed by Conservative councillors, recommended keeping the existing policy, arguing that caps were untested in court.

Each side accused the other of making the issue political.

Cllr Michael Coker (Con, Kenilworth Abbey) said sex clubs were legal and deserved to be considered, and present guidelines gave the committee discretion to interpret legislation.

Cllr George Illingworth (Con, Kenilworth Abbey) questioned whether imposing a cap after one licence was granted was fair, but warned that if Coventry imposed a cap, clubs might try to open in Leamington and agreed on defining a residential area.

Cllr David Wreford-Bush (Lib Dem, Leamington Crown) said: “I would like to see this discussion take place in full council. It’s clearly something that has raised a considerable amount of worry and angst in Leamington.”