Councillors shocked by description of alleged graphic sex acts at Sheffield’s Spearmint Rhino

Two women described sexual acts in graphic detail to shocked councillors as they lobbied against a Sheffield lap dancing club.

By The Newsroom
Thursday, 04 April, 2019, 21:01
The full council meeting heard graphic details of alleged behaviour at Spearmint Rhino

Some councillors protested that they didn’t need to know the intimate details in the Town Hall Chamber as Charlotte Mead, from the Women’s Equality Party Sheffield branch, and a female colleague told them alleged behaviour in Spearmint Rhino.

But Ms Mead said: “If you feel uncomfortable, this is what you are licensing so you need to listen.”

Charlotte Mead, in black, addressing full council

The women said two former male police officers visited Spearmint Rhino on two different occasions in February and identified numerous breaches of the licensing conditions and possible unlawful activity.

Most of the speech is too sexually graphic to be printed and broadcast by the media.

Ms Mead told a meeting of full council: “We are in possession of film footage of their investigation.

“The club’s rules state dancers may not use language of an inappropriate suggestive or sexually graphic nature at any time. Further rules include dancers must not sit or straddle customers, may only touch a customer above the customer’s chest and only with the dancer’s hands.

“The findings detailed by the investigators clearly show the links between the so-called acceptable part of the sex industry, sexual entertainment and prostitution. They are a continuum of the same line.

“It is no longer acceptable for councillors who find this subject difficult or upsetting to choose not to be involved. It is no longer acceptable to turn the other way and pretend it is not happening.

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“This is a matter of upholding the law and upholding your public sector equality duty, something you have failed to do for at least the last few years.”

Coun Lewis Dagnall said the issues around sexual entertainment venues were sensitive and people had strong feelings on either side of the argument.

He said: “Parliament has permitted lawful sexual entertainment venues and that is our starting point. The council has awarded licences appropriately.

“The issue about the potential breach of law needs to be taken to South Yorkshire Police. With regards to the breach of licence, the most appropriate course of action is for you to meet with the licensing department and report the evidence you hold.

“Spearmint Rhino has a 12 month rolling licence and it is up for review in April, if you formally submit evidence that will be taken into account.

“We do believe that cross party licensing committees are well placed to make decisions of this nature.”

Spearmint Rhino said it imposes strict rules at all of its establishments to ensure that they comply with the regulations that govern its premises.

A spokesman said: “If those rules have been broken we take the matter very seriously and we are carrying out an investigation into the allegations. To date, we have not been provided with any evidence from the persons making the allegations.”