Harrogate lap-dancing club under fire for 'normalising objectification of women'

The Kings Club is renewing its sexual entertainment licence.
The Kings Club is renewing its sexual entertainment licence.

A Harrogate resident who works for a charity that raises awareness of violence against women and girls, has strongly objected to a town centre lap-dancing club renewing its sexual entertainment licence - condemning it as a place that ‘normalises the sexualisation and objectification of women.’

Laura Brett, who is the head of development for the Press Red charity, said she feels “sad and angry” that the Kings Club continues to exist on Oxford Street, and has formally approached Harrogate Borough Council to air her views during the period in which residents can comment on the application for renewal - stating that women often end up working for such venues because they are forced or feel they do not have a choice.

Harrogate resident Laura Brett is campaigning against the Kings Club renewing its sexual entertainment licence.

Harrogate resident Laura Brett is campaigning against the Kings Club renewing its sexual entertainment licence.

She said: “These clubs discriminate against women in wider society by normalising the sexualisation and objectification of women, and this directly contributes to harmful attitudes and the high levels of male abuse of women.

“It makes me feel very sad and angry that a club like this exists in Harrogate, and it’s wrong wherever it is - it’s not a case of not in my town - it’s a case of not in our world.

“There is also widespread misuse of sexual entertainment venues to navigate further work and customers into other arenas of the sex industry, including prostitution, trafficking and drugs. The clubs claim to provide a regulated and safe environment for the women that work there - but that couldn’t be further from the truth.”

But the owner of the Kings Club, Paul Kinsey, has stressed that the Kings Club is a highly regulated environment where women’s (and everyone’s) safety is paramount. He said the club liaises regularly with the police and the council to ensure that this always continues to be the case.

Mr Kinsey said: “A lot of people have an inaccurate and completely outdated impression of lap-dancing clubs, and what actually goes on in them. In many cases you are never going to change the opinion that some people have of them.

“But they are highly regulated environments, and we regularly liaise with police and the council and have regular inspections.

“Each of our girls work here because they want to, they’re not forced to. It’s a positive choice they make, and they make a lot of money out of it. It’s a lifestyle choice that they are perfectly entitled to make. There will always be the argument about whether it’s demeaning, but it’s a personal preference and choice that our girls have.”

Mr Kinsey also said he would welcome the opportunity to meet with Mrs Brett and anyone else who has concerns about the continued presence of the Kings Club in Harrogate. The application to renew the sexual entertainment licence has been made by Woods Whur solicitors on behalf of the applicant.

Members of the public can respond to the application by contacting the borough council’s licensing team before Tuesday. Objections to the application will be sent to the applicant and will also be made public, however personal details such as name, address and telephone number will be removed. The fee to apply for a licence renewal is £1,695, with ongoing administration and enforcement costs of £1,302.