Residents and interest groups across Bristol will now be asked what they think of a new draft policy to close the two strip clubs in the city. This 12-week public consultation was decided after councillors voted 7-6 in its favour at a meeting on Monday, reports Bristol Live.
The decision has put hundreds of jobs, mostly female, at risk.
Speaking during the council meeting, Councillor Richard Eddy, of the Conservative Party, said: “Are we seriously going to make these people unemployed? That seems monstrous.
“We are asked not to give our taste, our moral view, whether we believe these sorts of clubs should exist, we are asked to weigh up the crime statistics and the evidence and say if we believe there is a link.
“In my view there is no link at all.
“The existing clubs are well run and well regulated, so I can’t see evidence that we should drop the cap to nil.
“That would be a grave mistake.”
Although lap-dancing clubs, which feature topless and fully nude performances, are legal in the UK, it is up to individual councils whether to impose a “nil cap” – effectively banning them from that area.
Women’s right campaigners have championed for Bristol to introduce the “nil cap” for years. It means the two existing clubs – Central Chambers and Urban Tiger – are now under threat.
But councillor Harriet Clough, of the Lib Dems, told Monday’s meeting: “If we were going to close any single club in Bristol to make the nightlife safer, it would not be Urban Tiger or Central Chambers.
“There are far more rapes and assaults associated with nightclubs in Bristol than there are with SEVs (sexual entertainment venue).”
Cllr Eddy said a ban could push the activities underground where performers would have no support.
“Our businesses and our people are struggling to survive and recover from Covid,” Cllr Eddy added.
“I hope we agree not to go out to consultation which means we go back to the current cap figure which people understand and most Bristolians approve of.”
A Bristol City Council officer told the meeting they found no evidence that a nil cap in other cities forced the industry underground.
No dates have yet been set for the consultation, which is expected to be delayed by the purdah period ahead of the local elections.