Scores of people have sent a clear ‘stay-away’ message to a firm planning to open a lapdancing club in Sheffield.
Rockwave Leisure Limited wants to open a club, Villa Mercedes, on Suffolk Road – just a few doors down from the Leadmill and not far from the railway station.
The deadline for comments on the firm’s sexual entertainment venues licence application has now passed and 180 objections have been sent to Sheffield Council – with just one in favour.
Councillor Douglas Johnson, who is campaigning against the licence, said: “Aside from any moral objections, there are good reasons for neighbours to be concerned by the possibility of a further sex entertainment venue in the area.”
The Star can reveal that Rockwave Leisure lost its licence for a similar venue in Harrogate last year. The club, also called Villa Mercedes, was shut down in August 2015 after it was stripped of its licence for reasons including physical contact with the dancers and allowing audience participation.
The proposed Sheffield premises would be the second lapdancing club in the city after nearby Spearmint Rhino.
The Star has asked Andreas Baskoutas of Rockwave Leisure for a comment on the plans several times, but he has not yet responded.
Coun Johnson, who represents the city ward, said: “There are obvious concerns about the potential for crime and disorder, particularly affecting young women: the premises are adjacent to a large block of Unite student accommodation, the Leadmill and Scotia Works, which accommodates a number of projects supporting vulnerable women.
“The safety of young students who may be living away from home for the first time is of particular importance.”
And the Leadmill, which hosts events for teenagers, has also objected, raising concerns from a child protection standpoint. The venue often has 14-plus nights with people queuing past the planned club.
Charlotte Mead, leader of the Sheffield branch of the Women’s Equality Party, said: “Having a strip club in the centre of our city is a very public statement that Sheffield accepts normalising the objectification and sexualisation of women.
“With recent research from the NSPCC showing that the majority of boys who viewed online pornography believed it provided a realistic depiction of sex and National Statistics revealing that the majority of rape victims, both male and female, are between 16 and 19 years old and that our young people are more likely to think controlling behaviour in relationships is acceptable, it is even more important that as a society we are aware of the messages we give out to our young people.”
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