The Strip Club NOT at the End of my Road!
By Kate Smurthwaite
BBC London has followed the Stop The Strip Pub campaign in Stoke Newington. Last week, Hackney Council rejected Satchmo's application for a Sex Encounter Licence.
Two months ago I wrote for BBC London about the campaign to prevent Satchmo’s bar in Stoke Newington from opening up as a Strip Club.
With enormous delight I can report that our campaign was successful. Their application was refused in its entirety.
So congratulations to all those who helped us oppose this.
Our campaign broke the record for the number of objections sent to Hackney Council Licensing Team – 525 from a wide range of community members and those who visit the area for work, school and leisure.
And close to 100 came to the Town Hall to watch and support the proceedings on the night of the hearing.
I’d never been to a hearing of this kind before so it was interesting to see how it worked.
First the three councillors introduced themselves and other officials there – including their legal adviser and the planning officer.
Next we met the team from Satchmo’s which included the three applicants we had met before and a be-suited lawyer they appeared to have hired at the last minute.
Finally they introduced the Stop The Strip Pub team and others who had objected to the licence who would be speaking, there were about eight speakers including Amanda Frayne – who was representing the more than 300 objectors organised by the STSP campaign.
The Satchmo’s team presented their case for the licence. They claimed that although Palatine Road is residential, Stoke Newington Road, onto which Satchmo’s opens, is an urban street.
They also said our objections would be invalid as they were made on moral grounds. They said the capacity of the new club would be lower than the existing bar licence, and also insisted that door staff would operate a policy of only allowing six smokers outside the building at a time.
Then Amanda pointed out that though many certainly did feel the application was unsuitable on moral grounds, the objections we were presenting were based on the residential nature of the street, proximity to local schools, places of worship, and the potential for increased crime and disorder, harassment as well as noise pollution.
Then other objectors spoke – most powerfully for me were the team from the Claudia Jones Centre which shares a wall with Satchmo’s.
They explained that their centre is used as a supplementary school, a place of worship and a centre that helps to rehabilitate women escaping drugs and the sex industry.
There were also speakers from the Aziziye Mosque, the Anatolian Community Centre, Stoke Newington Baptist Church and several other local residents.
Local ward councillor Jamie Carswell also spoke and read out a message of support from Diane Abbott.
Interestingly the articles previously on BBC London were mentioned because Scott Davis, the chief applicant for the licence, had made the point in his article that he was aware of “full sex clubs” operating in the area.
The point was made that such establishments are illegal and most of us would have gone to the police with such knowledge.
It also seemed to indicate that Mr Davis didn’t fully understand UK law covering Sex Encounters Establishments.
After the speeches there was an opportunity to ask questions, mostly about how the security teams, staff and customers would interact.
The crowd laughed when the Satchmo’s team suggested that customers would only be able to touch the performers by holding hands or touching them above the upper chest.
One of the councillors asked why the applicants had insisted on offering regular health checks to the performers given the limited dangers of hand-holding!
Then there was a brief opportunity for all parties to wrap up and the three councillors retired to consider their verdict.
We were advised this could take several hours so many people headed home but a few, including myself, decided to wait and see.
We were pleasantly surprised when they filed back in after about fifteen minutes and we sat down to hear the verdict.
They explained very briefly that the application was refused (big cheer) and then explained the grounds for that, which were basically the points we had made.
About 20 of the delighted objectors headed to a nearby pub to celebrate the outcome. We were thrilled with the strength of community feeling that emerged and are already talking about putting this into action again organising a local street party.
Click on the Stop the Strip Pub weblink up on the top right hand side of this page for more information
Kate Smurthwaite is an award winning comedienne and blogger
last updated: 16/05/2008 at 13:48