Lap dancing "code of practice" adopted by borough council to keep clubs in check
COUNCIL bosses have agreed tough new rules for clubs and bars that offer lap dancing on a temporary basis.
Nightclubs can host lap dancing evenings, particularly popular during race week, without the need for a licence, as long as they don't last longer than 24 hours.
However, the borough council is in the process of formally adopting a code of practice which clubs will be advised to follow.
The 15 rules in the code include that customers at a lap dancing night "must at all times remain fully clothed" and that proceedings are recorded on CCTV.
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Meanwhile, the council has also bolstered its existing licensing policy, which the code of practice will complement, so that anyone who wants to open a full-time "sexual entertainment venue" in the town will now have to "prominently" display a "legible" tariff of all prices to avoid any arguments with customers over what they owe.
A council spokeswoman said the charge sheet will be brought in because in the past there have been issues of disorder "to do with disagreement over payment and charges".
The council hopes bringing in the charge sheet, which all licensed premises will be required to display, will "alleviate the cause of issues/disorder".
Louis Krog, licensing and business support team leader at the borough council, said: "There are currently no licensed sexual entertainment venues in Cheltenham.
"The law does not require premises that offer infrequent sexual entertainment to have a licence.
"The council nonetheless recognise the need to ensure that unlicensed sexual entertainment is conducted properly.
"We are therefore proposing to adopt a code of practice for exempt sexual entertainment.
"The code of practice has already been adopted by the local trade via Cheltenham Night Safe and its inclusion in the draft policy is to formalise the adoption.
"The council will expect any premises that does offer exempt sexual entertainment to adhere to the code of practice."
But the council does not have any powers to enforce the code of practice.
However, to put on a temporary lap dancing night, a club would still need to have an entertainment licence.
And given that the aim of the code of practice is to reduce disorder, any club not playing by the rules could have their entertainment and alcohol licences reviewed as a result of any trouble from not applying the code.
Councillor Barbara Driver (C, Lansdown) kick-started an investigation into Cheltenham's sex trade and the code of practice was one of the outcomes.
She said: "We have to take a little bit more control of what goes on in Cheltenham at night.
"We are not trying to stop people's fun but we need to keep an eye on it.
"Hopefully it will make a difference. If they want to carry on trading they will have to play by the rules.
"That is what society does."