Owen Temple & Margaret Nealis

Liberal Democrat campaigners for Consett North Learn more

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Four dubious pleasures all in one day

by Owen Temple on 25 November, 2010

It’s not often the council treats its councillors to a diet of sex, alcohol, gambling and (whisper this one – a sandwich lunch) in the space of just six hours, but that’s what happened today.

When I was handed the bundle of 282 Powerpoint slides at the start of the licensing committee’s training session I feared the worst, but I have to say the QC doing the training was very good and I came away with some interesting new insights. For instance – which of us knew anything about one of the previous government’s wheezes “Alcohol Disorder Zones”. Not many I suspect since none have been declared since their inception in 2006. As the trainer put it, “which local authority is going to declare its status as an AZD”? The answer is clearly “none” and now this government is abolishing them – if you can abolish something that has never occurred!

One matter which will return to Consett, however, is the lap-dancing club issue. Back in 2005-6 the council had no power to refuse a licence to the lap-dancing club, Red Velvet. At the time a lot of people, myself included, were pretty annoyed that the law prevented people from having any influence over, or right to make representations about, this proposal because of arcane rules about “vicinity”. Well, the position is apparently very different now following a change in the law, a change which has been adopted by the county council with effect from December this year.

Whilst nothing has been decided and the council is still considering its policy in this area, the change in the law will pose an interesting question for our town which has the only such venue in County Durham. There was very real concern before Red Velvet opened and predictions of public disorder and misbehaviour, but the council was powerless to prevent it from being granted a licence. In the four years since then I’ve not been made aware of any significant disorder resulting from the club, but despite this I understand that the council’s licencing committee could very well find itself in a position where it could decline to licence the club in future (subject to the policy it adopts). That will unfold over the coming year.

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