York’s sex shops and lap dancing clubs to face new rules

Inside the Black Orchid, a licensed sex establishment on Toft Green, York. Photograph: Black Orchid on Facebook
5 Sep 2016 @ 8.27 pm
| News

They’re probably under the radar of most people who live here, but York does have a few licensed sex establishments.

At present there is one sex shop and two sexual entertainment venues – often known as lap dancing clubs – licensed to operate in the city.

Now these businesses, and any similar ones that open here in the future, could be placed under the control of a new policy drawn up by City of York Council.

The council drafted the Licensing of Sex Establishments Policy after a year of research. A working party involving councillors, council officers and police visited York’s two lap dancing clubs to see how they operate and talk to the managers and the dancers.

Residents’ views

Upstairs, above Mansion on Micklegate, calls itself ‘York’s Premiere Gentlemen's Club’. Photograph: Upstairs York
Upstairs, above Mansion on Micklegate, calls itself ‘York’s Premiere Gentlemen’s Club’. Photograph: Upstairs York

They also held a public consultation to gauge residents’ views on these establishments.

Of the 325 responses, 39% felt it was not acceptable to have lap dancing clubs anywhere in York, while 55% had no issues with them being located here.

The survey found that the city centre (53%) and ‘busy late night economy areas’ (54%) were considered the most acceptable locations for the clubs. Residential areas were considered unacceptable locations for 61% of those who responded.

The new policy builds on this research and is designed to make the rules – and the penalties for breaking them – clearer.

York licensed sex establishments

The Adult Shop, 70 Gillygate
Black Orchid, 3-5 Toft Green
Upstairs, 53 Micklegate

The protection of dancers is one of the priorities of the new policy, along with safety and security and what is considered acceptable and unacceptable conduct.

For example rules in the new policy state:

There will be at least one female member of staff authorised to be responsible for the safety and welfare of the dancers. This staff member must on the premises at all times when licensable activities are taking place

Throughout the lap or table dance customers will remain seated and fully clothed, with their hands clearly visible, either resting on the arms of the chair/sofa or on the seat cushion, or customers must be asked to sit on their hands.

‘Absolute clarity’

Licence holders would have to ensure that the house rules for both customers and performers are strictly adhered to.

Leader of York council David Carr said: “Residents’ feedback on this new policy has been heeded while the group has carefully considered the legal and licensing conditions because we need to ensure absolute clarity for the sector and for licensing officers.”

The new policy will be discussed at the gambling, licensing and regulatory committee on Tuesday, September 13, with a view to it going out to consultation. You can read the report and draft policy here.

Examples of house rules

For customers

Dancers may only dance to seated customers

Customers must remain clothed at all times

Dancers must not be touched by the customer while they are dancing except for the placing of gratuities into the hand or garter of the dancer at the beginning or conclusion of the performance

No person shall take any video recordings or photographs by any means of the authorised adult entertainment

No persons other than performers and authorised staff shall be permitted in the dressing/changing rooms

For performers

All performers shall be over 18 years of age

No performer shall be allowed to work if they appear to be intoxicated or under the influence of illegal substances

Performers shall not use any props or clothing in the act which portrays them as a minor

Garters worn for the collection of gratuities shall be situated no higher than mid thigh

Dancers shall re-dress at the conclusion of the performance and are to remain clothed (minimum bikini top and bottoms) at all times except when giving a performance