The Socialist 27 May 2009
Protest at MPs' sleaze
Why we must Stop the Strip!
IN A successful demo on 22 May over 100 people - local residents, trade unionists, students - joined the "Stop the Strip" campaign's loud and noisy protest against a lap dancing club in New Cross, south London.
A local publican whose pub had been going downhill for some time had decided to turn it into the White Hart "Gentlemen's Club". Initially the local council (Lewisham) rejected the licensing application but the publican appealed to the courts and won.
Unfortunately under Labour's Licensing Act, clubs only require a premises licence just like a cafe. There are now around 300 lap dancing clubs in the UK.
Local residents, together with Socialist Party councillors Ian Page and Chris Flood and Socialist Party members organised the Stop the Strip campaign to end lap dancing at the club. We immediately established that the group would not be attacking the women working there.
But local people feel threatened or intimidated by this club. One protester on the demo, June, told us: "I can't walk past there at night now. When they (the men visiting the bar) come outside they ogle you, saying and shouting things to you - it doesn't matter what age you are as well". Others told me similar stories.
Lewisham borough has one of the highest rates of sexual assault on women, the sixth highest rape figures and is eighth highest for all other sexual offences. Evidence shows that when lap-dancing clubs open in new areas, attacks on women increase. Lap dancing treats women as commodities to be ogled at and sometimes abused.
Ian Page and Chris Flood will be presenting a resolution to the council calling for a Compulsory Purchase Order on the White Hart, ensuring that it is put to better use for the community.
The Police and Crime Bill going through parliament will licence lap dancing clubs as sex encounter venues where licenses will be harder to get. However it is up to local councils to agree to sign up to this. Lewisham council should do this and we should put pressure on the government to make this bill mandatory for all local authorities across the country.
In this issue
Youth fight for jobs
Construction workers feature
International socialist news and analysis
PCS conference and workplace news
Socialist Party campaigning news