Council Bans More Lapdancing Clubs

Portsmouth City Council has banned any further lap-dancing clubs from being set up in its area.

Councillors had considered ridding the city of all ''sex establishments'' but following protests from lapdancers and other employees of clubs, the authority's licensing committee opted for a policy which prevents further clubs being opened.

Sixty five people, including lapdancers, bouncers, bar staff and other workers, protested outside Portsmouth Guildhall ahead of today's meeting.

They waved banners saying ''Save our jobs'' and ''Listen to our voice, it's our choice''.

John-Cortin Fernandez, general manager of the Elegance and Wiggle clubs in Southsea, said that an outright ban would lead to dozens of people losing their jobs.

He said: ''We just want to work, we want to make an honest living.

''Nobody is forced to work there, everyone wants to work there, they are happy with the situation, they get good money and flexible work.''

The licensing committee chose to allow existing clubs to remain open while rejecting the banning of clubs outright and the previous policy of considering applications on a case-by-case basis.

Les Stevens, committee chairman, said:

''We listened to well-thought out, eloquent arguments from both sides who were for and against changes to policy.

''Our decision was to agree a policy where the number of current sex establishments premises were sufficient for the city and when considering any new applications there would have to be very persuasive argument to agree to any more.

''We took our lead from public consultation which was overwhelming in its response against adopting a nil policy.

''We listened to people working in these venues and felt that the current sex establishments have not caused a rise in crime in the area.

''We noted the women working there did so by choice and were extremely well looked after and adopting a nil policy would put jobs at risk.''