- Gloucestershire’s Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) Chris Nelson is calling for new legislation to close a legal loophole which allows “pop-up” strip clubs to be created without any proper safe guards.
- The intervention comes after local charities supporting vulnerable women opposed the renewal of a Sexual Entertainment licence for the Two Pigs in Cheltenham during next year’s National Hunt Festival in March 2022.
- A recent survey by Cheltenham Borough Council highlighted the vast majority of women feel less safe on the town’s streets during race week and had suffered from some form of sexual harassment.
- PCC Chris Nelson said, “An application of this nature in the current climate of increased concerns around women’s safety and the recent survey highlighting that women feel less safe during race week is totally inappropriate”.
Gloucestershire’s Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) Chris Nelson is calling for a County-wide debate on whether the public objectification of women in strip clubs and the risk that such clubs pose to women on the streets of Gloucestershire is still appropriate.
The Commissioner’s call came after Cheltenham venue Two Pigs applied to renew its licence to offer sexual entertainment during the famous National Hunt Festival in March 2022.
The application has been opposed by local charities supporting vulnerable women and is due to be considered by the council’s licensing committee next week.
Mr. Nelson said, “We have to recognise that times have changed. An application of this nature in the current climate of increased concerns around women’s safety and the prevalence of violence against women and girls is totally inappropriate.
“I understand the council’s dilemma that they are restricted on the grounds for refusal, in the same way as Gloucestershire Police are. But a recent survey by Cheltenham Borough Council highlighted the fact that 75% of women feel less safe on the town’s streets during race week and 82% had suffered from some form of sexual harassment.
“As politicians concerned about community safety, we can’t ignore that, and have to ask ourselves is it really appropriate for a strip club to be operating from 6pm when families might still be in the town centre?”
The time has arrived to push back against officially endorsed places of sexual entertainment
Two pigs is applying to renew its previously granted licence as a Sex Establishment for six days during the races. However under current Licencing Laws, any licenced premises is allowed to provide lap dancers/sexual entertainment 11 times per year but with at least a month apart.
Mr Nelson added: “I was also shocked that the law allows for different venues to ‘pop-up’ and offer the same entertainment, without regulation or rules about conduct and safety, for one night each during the meeting and still be within the law.
“That is no longer good enough and there has to be new legislation to close that loophole”.
Cheltenham Borough Council has received 9 objections officially and an additional 21 objections that were not received on time.
Two local charities supporting vulnerable women, Gloucestershire Rape and Sexual Abuse Centre (GRASAC) and the Nelson Trust, have also voiced their strong opposition.
Mr. Nelson said, “Surely the time has arrived to push back against officially endorsed places of sexual entertainment, particularly when so many women are saying that they avoid the centre of Cheltenham during race week because of the bad behaviour by some drunken and offensive men.
“The semi-public objectification of women can’t help in the fight against misogyny, whatever the evidence – or lack of it. This is the time for strong political leadership and a debate that changes the mood music on such sensitive matters”.