SEXUAL entertainment venues in Sheffield are angry about planned new charges and conditions set to be imposed by the council.
Marie Calvert, who runs Attercliffe Road swingers’ club La Chambre with husband Barry, has branded as a “stealth tax” new licence charges of £1,335 per venue, annual renewal fees of £1,000, and levies of £1,000 to vary licences or £500 to transfer them.
The charges are part of Sheffield Council’s new Sexual Entertainment Venues licensing policy, created after the Government gave councils powers to regulate venues.
Marie said: “For us it is a very worrying development. We cannot be compared to lap dancing clubs or indeed any other kind of sexual venue in that we do not offer sexual entertainment to our customers - they themselves consent to any fun they wish to have. We have been open for almost 13 years and have had no problems at all, in fact our customers arrive and leave as quietly as they can. We also fill the local hotels at weekends.
“To be told we will have yet another expense is disheartening. This is yet another stealth tax from the Government but I suppose we will have no choice but to comply.”
Other venues are complaining about different aspects of the council’s new policy, set to be approved at a meeting of the licensing board on Thursday.
Julian Skeens, lawyer for Spearmint Rhino which has a lap dancing club on Brown Street, criticised a clause allowing advertising within 440 yards of a venue with council permission - but forbidding advertising elsewhere in the city.
He said: “This would appear to be a severe restraint on trade as it would cover magazine and newspaper adverts, even within a national publication.”
And Scores lap dancing club on Charter Square said whilst the council’s fees were “acceptable”, conditions such as a requirement to have a register containing personal details of staff, and a signing-in book for workers open for inspection by police and council officials, “appear to propagate a fictional and untrue image of the industry as a criminal and dishonest business”.
Sheffield Council said the new policy is a Government requirement, and the fees set “will only recover the reasonable cost of the licensing service in administering and enforcing this licensing system”.