City councillors looking to close down a lap-dancing club admit they are powerless to stop its licence being renewed.
Complaints about Angels in Brook Street, Northminster, were made in a lengthy email exchange between members on Peterborough City Council, with many hoping to see its licence to operate expire.
However, councillors from several parties were left disappointed after it quickly became apparent that the council has little choice but to extend the licence.
Cllr Irene Walsh, the Conservative cabinet member for communities, said: “There are absolutely no grounds for this licence to be taken away from them, so there’s absolutely no point formally opposing it. We all have to accept they are operating within the law.
“As far as my personal view is concerned I think it’s rather demeaning for the female sex to be portrayed that way. I think girls doing this are poor role models for women.
“At the end of the day there’s no councillor that would disagree that the licence can’t go on because of what the law is at the moment, but what we really need to be promoting are images of successful young women and achievers in this city as our role models.”
Cllr Matthew Mahabadi, Labour and Co-operative member for East ward, began the email exchange by stating: “The continued presence of such venues of sexual entertainment in our city sustain a culture that encourages women to be seen as objects of exploitation.”
He later added: “It’s been made very clear to me (and I respect the advice of officers in this matter) that there’s nothing legally any councillor can do to stop the licence being renewed if their objection is only on a ‘moral’ basis.
“This issue clearly garnered cross party support. Certainly if the opportunity arises to block applications for further additional sexual entertainment venues I will definitely be doing my best to block these. It’s not that I object to women freely earning a living in these establishments. I am simply concerned that these establishments reinforce objectification of women and negative gender stereotypes in general.”
David Keetley, manager of Angels, said: “The licence is renewed annually. Angels has been operating without incident since 2005 and we are not aware of any issue regarding this year’s application.”
MP for Peterborough Fiona Onasanya said: “With an establishment such as Angels there is the possibility of regulation and a degree of openness, so we know what’s going on and everything is above board which I believe is important.
“I definitely understand where councillors Walsh and Mahabadi are coming from, but whilst I don’t condone the business I also won’t condemn it.”
When the ET visited Angels
The Peterborough Evening Telegraph, as we were known, visited the newly opened Angels in 2005 and spoke to some dancers who were working there.
One said she was earning more than £300 a night and was enjoying her work.
She said: “The trouble is, strip clubs do have a bad name, so a lot of young guys who’ve never been to one think they’re dingy, dirty places where the girls are right skanks.
“But it’s not like that here. They’re really strict about the rules and really look after you.”
The club said it showed the rules to people entering straight away and that it employs house parents to look after the girls.
So what was the ET’s verdict?
Reporter David Old said: “I feel a club of this type is needed in the city. Far from being seedy, the bar oozes a class that is missing from many other places in the city. As an addition to the limited nightlife in Peterborough, Angels is a welcome one.”
Features editor Rachael Gordon said: “I was fascinated by how supple and strong the girls were. But after three hours I felt it was time to go home. Would I go again? Maybe on a hen night or for a night out with the girls. Will I be a regular? Probably not. I’ll leave that for the boys...”