Calderdale’s sole lap dancing club faces an uncertain future after councillors refused to renew its licence.
La Salsa, in Silver Street, Halifax, whose sex establishment licence expires tomorrow, December 12, failed to win support from Calderdale Council’s Licensing and Regulatory Committee who were split over the decision but ultimately voted to reject the club’s application.
The club’s owners do have a right of appeal.
Coun Carol Machell (Lab, Todmorden) proposed that under Home Office guidelines, copies of which were supplied to councillors, the application be refused on grounds the applicant was unsuitable to hold a licence and that a sex entertainment premises at Silver Street would be inappropriate having regard to the character of the relevant locality.
Her amendment was carried after committee chair Coun Robert Thornber’s (Con, Ryburn) motion to grant the licence was defeated.
Councillors heard the club was opposite a women’s refuge and objectors to the renewal included the White Ribbon Campaign, which is a Calderdale based national charity and international movement of men and boys working to end male violence against women and girls, and WomenCentre, which supports women and children, some of whom are extremely vulnerable.
Some women who had used the refuge had suffered domestic violence and sexual abuse and the proximity of the club “set them on edge” said one objector. Children also lived at the centre, councillors heard.
They were additionally told the Ebenezer Church on St James Road is also opposite the club.
In written objections the proximity of the club to these did not sit well with Calderdale’s efforts to attract businesses and visitors to Halifax through developments such as the Piece Hall and Square Chapel Arts Centre, one said.
Objectors criticised the lap dancing industry generally, arguing it was based on male sexual gratification, and referred to La Salsa’s Huddersfield club losing its licence to operate some years ago.
The committee questioned applicant Mr Reza Shahsavar about claims objectors made about him personally and about reasons why the Huddersfield La Salsa club owned by him had lost its licence following a police operation back in 2010.
But councillors were told West Yorkshire Police and ward councillors had not lodged any objections to the Halifax club’s licence being renewed.
Directly questioned by Coun Daniel Sutherland (Lab, Illingworth and Mixenden) and Coun Faisal Shoukat (Lab, Park) about whether he had ever been convicted or whether he had had any licences disqualified, revoked or suspended, even temporarily, Mr Shahsavar said “no”.
Mr Shahsavar had earlier told the committee the Huddersfield incident had been “a misunderstanding” and he was being “falsely accused” in allegations now being made by objectors.
In 16 years La Salsa in Halifax had not had a single issue of concern for the authorities in Calderdale, he said.
The club had received qualified support at the meeting from a woman who said while she did not necessarily approve of the lap dancing industry, driving it underground by refusing to licence it would put women in more danger.
Councillors were told they are not allowed to reject a licence on moral grounds but the Home Office guidelines, which are also a plank of the council’s own recently approved Licensing of Sex Establishments policy, do give reasons why a licence application may be refused, including the two given by the committee.