Harrogate strip club in legal standoff with council over sexual entertainment licence

The owners of Harrogate's only strip club are in a legal standoff with the council over how dancers should be paid and whether they can drink alcohol.

Monday, 17th May 2021, 1:45 pm
Updated Monday, 17th May 2021, 1:46 pm
Kings Club on Oxford Street.

Kings Club had its sexual entertainment licence renewed at a private meeting of Harrogate council's sub-licensing committee last September, but conditions that dancers are paid by bank transfer and do not drink alcohol were attached after councillors raised concerns over their safety.

This led to an appeal being lodged by the Oxford Street venue owners who also applied for a new licence set to be decided at another meeting of the sub-committee on Wednesday.

With an appeal hearing at York Magistrates' Court on 28 May looming, a report to Wednesday's meeting said the venue has proposed new conditions "in an attempt to resolve the current appeal without the time and costs associated with the determination by the Magistrates' court".

Councillors have been recommended to approve these conditions which include a ban on dancers bringing alcohol onto the premises only and a "full audit trail/reconciliation account" for how they are paid.

The sexual entertainment licence covers topless pole dancing, topless stage strip tease and full nudity lap dancing, and is separate to the venue's alcohol licence.

In September, councillors heard how officers inspected the venue in 2019 when it was found some panic alarms in dancing booths were not working correctly, although they were repaired the same day.

They also heard how the venue had been in "cahoots" with two former dancers over payments, although this was dismissed by legal representatives for the owners.

This is according to a report which also said dancers are required to pay a 'house fee' of £25 per night and receive 70% of payments from customers.

There is also a reduction in fees for dancers if they are intoxicated whilst with a customer or refuse to pole dance, the report added.

After reviewing the venue's safety procedures including risk assessments and CCTV, the report said councillors still had "concerns about the overall safety of the dancers" despite reassurances given by the owners.

The report added councillors felt it was "necessary" to put extra conditions in place, also including no drugs allowed on the premises, a need for each dancer to be escorted to a safe mode of transport when they leave, a written record of all fines imposed on dancers and a code of conduct.

These conditions have all been carried forward by the venue owners in their new application, however, they have challenged the alcohol ban for dancers and need for payments to be done by bank transfer.

Kings Club was contacted for a comment but did not respond at the time of publication.

All strip clubs have been closed since March 2020 and are due to reopen on 21 June when all social distancing measures are scheduled to end under the government's roadmap out of lockdown.

By Jacob Webster, Local Democracy Reporter