Sheffield & South Yorkshire

Spearmint Rhino Sheffield remains despite complaints

Spearmint Rhino dancers celebrate outside Sheffield Town Hall
Image caption Spearmint Rhino dancers celebrated outside Sheffield Town Hall after the strip club's sexual entertainment licence was renewed until the end of April

A strip club will stay open despite undercover filming revealing more than 70 breaches to the licence and 145 breaches of the club's own rules.

Sheffield council's licensing committee met for eight hours to discuss whether Spearmint Rhino should have its sexual entertainment licence renewed.

Private investigators employed by campaigners had shown dancers sexually touched customers and each other.

Dancers from the club had campaigned to save the licence.

The council said full reasons for the renewal would be given soon.

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Women's equality campaigners commissioned the secret filming inside the Brown Street club in February.

A council investigation followed and it found more than 70 breaches to the licence.

The club's critics demanded its licence be revoked.

Image caption Pro-Spearmint Rhino protesters and dancers marched from the club to Sheffield Town Hall in June

After the secret filming council officers inspected the club monthly.

They said they found no evidence that the club's management was aware of the breaches, and an action plan was put in place with training for all staff. The contracts of dancers caught rule-breaking were ended.

The licensing team was so concerned about the level of management control that the debate was referred to the licensing sub-committee.

Eventually, after Monday's meeting the council renewed the licence until next April.

Dancer Beth Amos said: "I'm so happy. We fought for our club; this whole horrible, terrible, upsetting year has been so worth it."

Celia Lister, who also dances at the club, said: "It's been a huge milestone in breaking the social stigma around sex work and I think much to the displeasure of [anti-strip club campaigners], this scandal has actually helped us gain the publicity we needed to do this."

Anti-sex trade campaigners described the decision as "shocking".

The council said: "Members heard a wealth of information both against and in support of the application and spent a lot of time examining this alongside the documentary evidence."

Image caption Altogether the secret filming at Spearmint Rhino Sheffield revealed 74 breaches of licence conditions, and 145 instances where the club's code of conduct rules were broken

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