Proposals to close down Blackpool’s lap dancing clubs will put sex workers in danger, operators of the venues have warned.
It is feared dancers will “be forced underground” to work behind closed doors in hotel rooms and at unregulated venues with higher risks of sexual assault and exploitation.
Blackpool Council announced in January this year it planned to phase out lap dancing clubs in order to enhance its reputation as a family resort.
Eden One, one of four lap dancing clubs in Blackpool
A proposed new policy would permit only one sex shop to trade, and set a zero limit on lap dancing clubs.
The existing four clubs would be allowed to continue operating, but once those licences lapse for any reason they would not be renewed.
But operators have hit out at the proposals after taking part in consultation.
Ashley Sayers, whose family has operated Eden Two on the Promenade for 14 years, said dancers ranged from single mums to women paying their way through university.
She warned: “The industry will be forced underground and girls will be tempted, if not forced to work in places such as hotels for private bachelor parties where their risk of sexual assault and financial exploitation would be alarmingly high.”
In her submission to the council, she added the regulated clubs provided security including “a buddy system for girls going out for breaks, provided security walk outs to cars or cabs at the end of shifts.”
Ms Sayers said: “I have grave concerns that these proposed changes will change the nature of the industry and take away this safe working environment we have built over the years.
“If the council goes ahead with the proposed reduction to zero and the worst happens and all Blackpool SEVs (sexual entertainment venues) are closed these girls will no longer have these safe and regulated operating environments.”
Steve Smith, manager of Heaven and Sinless lap dancing clubs in the resort. also warned performers would turn to non-licensed venues that “in most instances do not provide security or CCTV for the protection of the public or dancers.”
The National SEV Coalition has also objected warning regulated clubs will be replaced by “ad hoc stripping events” under temporary licences “whilst dancers will potentially have to work at private parties (either in hotel rooms or at the customers’ own properties), work in underground clubs or might have to get into more dangerous forms of sex work.”
The revised policy is due to be considered by the council’s licensing committee on Tuesday, when councillors are recommended to agree the proposals which must then go before the executive for final approval.