The Government has announced local communities will soon have greater powers to challenge the number and location of strip bars in their area.
From the 6 April 2010, local authorities will be able to require all strip bars and lap dancing clubs in their area, including existing venues, to apply for a sex establishment licence if they want to continue to operate lawfully.
And for the first time, local people will be able to oppose an application for a strip bar on the basis that it would be inappropriate given the character of their local neighbourhood.
Currently local people can only object to the establishment of a lap dancing club in their area on the basis that it would infringe one of the four licensing objectives set out in the Licensing Act 2003. These are the prevention of crime and disorder; public safety; prevention of public nuisance; and the protection of children from harm.
Under the new regime, if adopted by the local authority, local people will be able to oppose an application for a lap dancing club on the basis that it would be inappropriate given the character of the locality, and local authorities will be able to impose a wide range of conditions on a licence and set a quota on the number of lap dancing clubs they feel would be appropriate for a particular area, rejecting any further applications once such a quota has been met.
The changes follow consultation with local authorities in 2008, which identified concerns regarding the way lap dancing clubs are regulated under the Licensing Act 2003.
To give existing venues time to comply with the new regime there will be a period of 12 months from the day the new provisions come into force locally within which clubs must apply for a sex establishment licence.
The new measures form part of the Policing and Crime Act 2009.
Home Office Minister Alan Campbell said:
"Many people have told us they don't want a lap dancing club in their neighbourhood and feel that the existing legislation does not adequately take account of their concerns.
"From April these important reforms will give local authorities the powers they need to respond to the concerns of local people regarding the number and location of lap dancing clubs in their area."
Harriet Harman, Minister for Women and Equality, said:
"If people don't want to have a sleazy lap dancing club in their neighbourhood, they shouldn't be forced to have one, which is why we're changing the law so local people can object and say 'we don't want this' in our area because it's a sex establishment."