Warning shot to nightclubs in Cheltenham over lap dancing during race week
NIGHTCLUB owners in Cheltenham have been warned not to overstep the mark when it comes to hosting lap dances during race week.
Licensing officers at the borough council say they will team up with police to carry out nightly inspections of late-opening premises throughout the event to ensure they do not breach regulations which will limit strip club activity to 24 hours over the whole week.
Last year Embassy nightclub, in Pittville Street, was forced to close after a raid by authorities found it was hosting such entertainment outside the permitted time frame.
A second club was given a formal warning for allowing touching between dancers and customers.
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This year authorities plan to take a tough stance with anyone caught flouting the rules.
Councillor Garth Barnes (LD, College), chairman of the council's licensing committee, said: "It's something we take very seriously. I know there are concerns from the police that we get a lot of people flooding in from the big cities like Manchester and Birmingham to try to take advantage of the situation during race week.
"But we have shown we will be strict when it comes to lap dancing.
"We closed down one venue last year for breaking the rules and are not afraid to take the same kind of action again if necessary."
Traditionally, many night- clubs in the town centre have hosted lap dances during race week in a bid to capitalise on the massive influx of people to the town.
Current licensing rules mean anyone wanting to host lap dances for longer than 24 hours per month now has to apply for a permanent sexual entertainment licence.
It is believed lap dancers can earn up to £5,000 a week – making it a lucrative trade.
However, police have said strip club entertainment has been linked to criminal activity in the past, including people trafficking.
Trevor Gladding, community protection team leader at the council, said nightly patrols were on the cards throughout the week.
He said: "Licensing officers will work with police conducting nightly checks to ensure establishments are complying with the sexual entertainment code of practice.
"Our community protection officers will also be on patrol working with police to deal with any issues that may require immediate attention."