The future of Leighton’s strip club is under scrutiny as plans to force out ‘sex establishments’ from Central Beds town centres are revealed.
If Central Beds Council’s new policy gets the go-ahead, the licensing of sex establishment venues in the town centre will be refused if they are within 500metres of religious buildings, schools, residential areas and places used by children and families.
The call for change comes after residents expressed concern about sexual entertainment venues being allowed in their areas when a telephone survey of 1,123 residents revealed 63 per cent of people did not believe licences should be granted in their area.
Waterside Bar, Leighton Road, has not operated as a sexual entertainment venue since April, but owner Brian Allan has reapplied for the licence, although it is not yet known whether the new policy will prevent the club from obtaining the licence.
It runs as a sports bar upstairs, but has also employed topless dancers downstairs.
Mr Allan said: “Everybody is allowed freedom of speech and if we look at today’s society then why is it a problem if a girl wants to take off her clothes to ie. feed her baby, or get money for college? It’s not as if they are doing something that is totally wrong.
“Life is not like what it was years ago when everything was taboo, now it is totally different. Sometimes when you go to lapdancing clubs the girls are absolutely brilliant dancers. This pole is like an art in itself. At the end of the day, maybe the government are trying to push it out, but what is the message behind it?
“If somewhere along the line people were complaining about condoms lying all around the club outside and people were saying girls were doing this and that, then fair enough comment shut them down. But no, it’s not, so it’s wrong.
“We have never had a problem because we have never put it in people’s faces. It has come as a surprise by what they are trying to achieve.”
Natalie, who is a dancer at Waterside Bar, said: “Everyone stays in this place, so no one is walking outside undressed. Even if you want a cigarette or something you have to get dressed again.
“It makes me feel defensive. Everyone thinks that if you are a dancer you do something wrong, but you don’t do anything wrong. You are just dancing for them.”
Natalie moved over eight years ago from Romania and has a dream to be an estate agent in the future once she has earned enough money.
“I sometimes feel bad, but I know that what I do is not bad. I have never crossed any lines.
“This is not my career that I want to do now, but not forever.”
See the full policy, the consultation document and make comments via www.centralbedfordshire.gov.uk/consultations.
The consultation runs through to Friday, August 30.