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Sex entertainment policy saga for Halifax lap dance club nearing an end

La Salsa, Halifax.
La Salsa, Halifax.

The saga of how much performers in Calderdale sex entertainment establishments can reveal to customers may soon be over.

In brief, they will still have to keep certain parts of their bodies hidden during their performances, if councillors do not overturn the latest recommendation from their licensing colleagues.

The issue has proved problematic for councillors through the summer as they have been formulating a policy for licensing sex establishments, which in Calderdale Council’s case effectively means the La Salsa lap-dancing club at Silver Street, Halifax.

Feedback from extensive consultation, which ranged from seeking the views of police and councillors to surveys carried out in all Calderdale’s major towns, produced three requests for changes to be made to the policy.

The first of these was a request from La Salsa’s management that a condition requiring performers to at all times wear a non-transparent g-string or similar piece of clothing, at no time revealing any part of their genitalia or anus, be dropped.

La Salsa managers have argued by letter and at meetings of the council’s Licensing and Regulatory Committee, which was considering the matters, that the requirement is out of step with similar premises in nearby places including Leeds and Manchester, where performers can reveal more, causing problems with customers who arrive at the Halifax club expecting their experience to be similar.

It creates tension when they demand refunds and in effect loses business for Halifax, they argue.

The ruling also means the club’s management continually having to take time to retrain dancers to perform in line with Calderdale’s rules rather than those in other centres they might previously have worked at, they say.

In the summer the committee agreed after debate and legal advice to recommend to the full Calderdale Council, which will make the final decision on the policy as a whole and on the requests for amendments, that the requirement be scrapped in addition to other changes including the 300 mm distance which must be kept between customer and performer, which the person requesting it felt put too much responsibility on the performer, and what can be shown in signage.

But at July’s full meeting of the council, councillors asked for the committee to look at both matters again, and this time they reached different conclusions after more debate and clarification with licensing and legal officers.

In terms of the whole policy they recommended to councillors that they approve the draft licensing of Sex Establishments Statement of Licensing Policy including a limit in number of such establishments to one.

That in effect would mean La Salsa remaining the only such premises licensed by the council, although licenses are reviewed annually and have to meet detailed criteria included in the policy.

They then agreed to recommend the council refuses to amend conditions in line with the requests made in the three instances following the consultation which had been

carried out in 2017.