YORK’S only lap-dancing club can stay open after councillors renewed its licence despite objections by a feminist group.
The York Feminist Network had urged City of York Council to turn down an application by Upstairs, situated above the Mansion nightclub in Micklegate, for a renewal of its 12-month licence.
It claimed in December that the club was too close to several organisations working with vulnerable groups, such as a domestic abuse service, women’s counselling service and an organisation supporting survivors of rape and sexual abuse. It also claimed the club contributed to making Micklegate feel a no-go area for women, as it made them feel threatened or uncomfortable.
But club owner Andrew Whitney denied this. He claimed closure would result in up to 40 dancers losing their jobs and could threaten the whole nightclub’s viability.
He said the club itself had many female customers who came with their partners or with other women, and the lap dancing was promoted in such a discreet way that many people in the nightclub below did not even realise it was there.
The council’s licensing committee approved the application earlier this week. Licensing manager Lesley Cooke said members were satisfied that none of the grounds for refusal were established and therefore the licence could be renewed.
Mr Whitney said the group’s concerns about the organisations working with vulnerable women had been dismissed because their offices were all closed long before the club opened its doors at 9pm.
The Feminist Network said in a statement it regretted York had decided not to join an increasing number of councils across the UK, such as Leeds and Oxford, which had “prioritised women’s safety and said no to the objectification of women – as advised by the Equality Act 2010”.
It said it was committed to collaborating with local residents and women’s groups across the UK to re-launch the campaign next year.
“We are confident that with time and more education on gender equality, and the harmful effects of sexual entertainment venues, the outdated views of the councillors will change,” it added.