Lapdance clubs fear

Councillor Matthew Lock

Councillor Matthew Lock

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A COUNCILLOR fears there could be a rise in prostitution in town following recent changes to laws governing lapdancing clubs.

Councillor Matthew Lock said it was like a “cancer” once it started and extremely hard to get rid of.

He made the remarks at a council meeting last Wednesday (December 22).

Cllr Lock, who is also a Conservative county councillor, said: “While I welcome the strengthening of our powers I do have concerns, growing up in Nottingham near the red-light district.

“When it starts (prostitution) it is like a cancer and you can’t get rid of it easily. I think it is right to air these concerns before they appear in Hastings.

“With it being Christmas time there will be many girls out there lonely. May be the council needs to work with the Safer Hastings Partnership and be aware of the dangers before it actually starts.”

Labour councillor Mike Turner said the Coalition Government’s planned cuts to public services and austerity measures could force some women to resort to prostitution in order to make money.

Earlier this month the borough council’s cabinet agreed that lapdancing clubs in town be subject to tighter controls after the authority accepted new powers.

They said such venues as Club XS in Prospect Place would be considered “sexual entertainment venues” and would need a special adult entertainment licence of the sort that covers sex shops and porn cinemas.

But the new law does not allow for residents to oppose licences on moral grounds and pubs and bars which organise lapdancing events less than 11 times a year will not be covered by the new rules.

Places like Bar Diva, which hosts occasional lapdancing evenings, and attracted a backlash from Silverhill residents earlier this year, will also be exempt.

At the time Cllr Matthew J Lock feared Hastings would become the “Blackpool of the south” if the rules were not tightened up.

At last Wednesday’s meeting, Cllr Emily Westley said there had been a sexual entertainment venue in Hastings for seven years that had never caused any problems.

Cllr Phil Scott said: “We are not Blackpool, are a very small town and I do not see any significant change in the nature of applications. We will see a very small amount coming forward so will hardly see a dime of difference.”

Under the new law the council can demand that lapdancing clubs install CCTV cameras or employ door staff, provide proper changing facilities and make sure they protect young and vulnerable people.