PLANS to open a lap dancing club in Warrington town centre have been thrown out by councillors.

Warrington Borough Council’s licencing committee has ruled on an application for a sexual entertainment venue at Truth nightclub.

The Friars Gate venue has formerly been Trilogy and Showbar over the years, as well as the Hippodrome and stints as Palace Cinema, Royal Court Theatre, a music hall and a bingo hall before then.

Committee members decided on the bid by applicant Warrington Holdings Group Ltd at a meeting last Tuesday, April 16, at Warrington Town Hall.

The decision has only now been made public, with councillors rejecting the bid due to it being ‘inappropriate given the character of the area’.

Permission was sought to offer striptease and lap, pole and table dancing from the first floor only from 7pm to 3am, Monday to Sunday.

The report states that there are no other sex entertainment premises within a one-mile radius, but there are 11 schools, 14 nurseries, 32 places of worship and 54 licensed premises.

Warrington does not currently have any sexual entertainment venues, although there is a sex shop on Sankey Street.

During a 28-day consultation period, the council received 22 individual objections and one petition containing 286 signatures – with one email in support.

Cheshire Police also initially opposed the ‘damaging’ application as it ‘could lead to women or vulnerable people feeling intimidated, as well as degrading and exploiting workers or customers’.

“It reinforces the damaging gender stereotypes, which goes against all the work that has been done around the Safer Streets campaign,” its objection stated.

“The constabulary feels that the granting of this license for a sexual entertainment venue would undermine the work that the police and the council have been doing over the last few years.”

However, this was withdrawn after consultation with other police forces and an agreement with the applicant over safeguards for staff and patrons.

The committee stated it was ‘surprised and concerned by the lack of proper due diligence and consideration given to the local area’ by the applicant.

A meeting report states: “It is concerning that the mere presence of a sex entertainment venue could cause women and girls to self-exclude themselves from the locality, even if there is no direct crime or disorder associated with this venue.”

In rejecting the application, the committee said: “It is our view that this is a compact thriving mixed-use family focused locality that fosters and promotes diversity and inclusion.

“We have asked ourselves the question of whether a sex entertainment venue of this type would be appropriate to the character of the locality, and we unanimously determined that the answer is no.

“On the ground that the proposed sex entertainment venue is inappropriate to the character of the relevant locality, the application is rejected.

“We recognise the legitimacy of dance in sex entertainment venues as a lawful economic activity, and the strong body of feeling by dancers that support such work and opportunities.

“We also recognise the strong body of feeling that is concerned that this type of performance objectifies women, which has the potential to undermine the safety and standing of women in society.

“In the present circumstances, the application, in any event, is rejected as being inappropriate given the character of the area.”

Councillors also said they were ‘shocked and dismayed’ that the applicant referred to female performers throughout the hearing as ‘girls’, while male performers were referred to as ‘males’ or ‘men’, and not ‘boys’.

“Members found this deeply offensive and out of tune with what is expected in today's day and age,” the report adds.

“We recognise that historically ‘girls’ was used in advertising lap dancing and similar venues.

“Lap dancing and similar entertainment is a legitimate and lawful economic activity.

“Women employed in this profession deserve to be addressed and referred to with dignity and respect. We accepted the applicant’s apology at the end of the hearing.”