Monday, July 28, 2008

White Hart in New Cross - lap dancing license row

The White Hart pub (184 New Cross Rd) has applied for a licence to provide striptease, lap and pole dancing on its premises from 2pm to 3am, 7 days a week.

The plans are being vigorously opposed by the New Cross Gate Trust (the successor to New Deal for Communities for New Cross), by local councillor Ian Page and an increasing number of local people. They argue that allowing the White Hart to become a striptease, lap and pole dancing venue will increase crime in the New Cross area, as well as making New Cross a destination for sex entertainment and prostitution.

More specifically they point out that the area immediately around the White Hart (including the traffic island and the area by the Barclays and Post Office cash points) has been identified by both NDC research and Transport for London as an existing crime ‘hotspot’. In 2007, New Cross was included in the Metropolitan Police’s ‘Challenging Wards Programme’ to tackle areas with the most serious crime issues, one of only eight wards out of 628 in London to be selected.

Licensing Law

One difficulty for opponents is that the powers of Councils to refuse this kind of license have been restricted by the Licensing Act 2003 – whether local people and/or councillors object on principle to having a lapdancing club in their area is immaterial unless they can clearly demonstrate that the specific application will have a negative impact on one or more of the four licensing objectives: Crime & disorder, public safety, prevention of public nuisance, protection of children from harm.

One thing in the opposition’s favour however is that Lewisham Council has previously designated the New Cross Corridor – the area along New Cross Road – as a Cumulative Impact Zone (CIZ) due to the higher levels of crime in the area. This means that it should be for the licensee (in this case the landlord of The White Hart) to prove that the proposed variation would not add to the problems in the area rather than leaving it to the objectors to prove that it will.

My personal view...

My own pro-feminism was influenced by hanging out with women who paint bombed porn shops in their spare time and took a straightforward Andrea Dworkin position that pornography (including sex shows) equals violence against women.

Later I have known feminist sex workers who take a different view. They have convinced me that not everybody who works in the sex industry is a passive victim of male violence and that some of the legal measures against it can actually put women working in the sex industry in greater danger (e.g. by forcing them underground)

Despite this I am still clear that lap dancing clubs are there specifically to attract the kind of bloke who thinks that women exist solely for their sexual gratification, and having more of these blokes hanging round in New Cross Gate is bound to have an impact in terms of increasing harassment of women walking by. What’s more pissed up punters of this type will be a honey pot for street robbery, which again will increase the risk for other people having to pass by this area at night. Lets be clear what’s being proposed is not some post-feminist burlesque performance art but the sleaziest kind of strip joint.

I have some sympathy for the landlord of The White Hart, Ken Linwood, who has told the South London Press that the pub risks closure. The pub is a historic landmark on this ancient road junction (see pictures at Notes from The Island) and it would be a great shame if it had to close. But the fact is if it becomes a lap dancing joint it will in effect have closed as a pub in the sense of a public space where men and women can go and have a quiet drink without being harassed. The pub is not very busy at present and needs doing up – but there must be another way of making it a more popular place for local people to go.

If you want to put across your views on these proposals you will need to write to the Licensing Team at Lewisham Council by 30th July 2008 (that’s tomorrow). Their address is Licensing Team - Laurence House, 2nd Floor Laurence House, 1 Catford Road, Catford SE6 4RU (Tel: 020 8314 6400) Or email licensing@lewisham.gov.uk

The application is due to be heard on 14 August (although there is a possibility that the date may change).

See also result of application

16 comments:

eleanargh said...

ARGH.

Thanks v much for telling us about this.

Transpontine said...

I gather that Telegraph Hill Labour Councillor Robin Cross is formally objecting to this, as are the T.Hill Socialist Party Councillors Ian Page and Chris Flood.

Anonymous said...

I'd heard about this.
Not surprising that, faced with closure, they've come up with this solution, rather than, say, re-decorating, cleaning the faeces of the toilet walls (one of the worst, dirtiest toilets I've ever seen),and just trying to improve the atmosphere of the place. I've always thought the White Hart was a waste of a great opportunity, an historic, well-placed pub that could benefit from some good management and friendly service.

Anonymous said...

Landlord bears more than a passing resemblance to Mike Read/Frank Butcher.

Anonymous said...

Isn't it possible to take a pragmatic view that, as a man, women exist not only for sexual gratification but other things as well? i.e. do the two have to be mutually exclusive? Are the objectors against any sort of sexual gratification? Have they ever had any?

Transpontine said...

Speaking for myself I can say that I have had plenty of sexual gratification - not of all it on my own (he said anticipating obvious cheap retort) - but none of it involved paying other people to pretend they were enjoying it.

Blackheath Bugle said...

I used to live just round the corner from a lapdancing club (Secrets in Hammersmith), so I have some experience of what this is like. Secrets always seemed to be run quietly and discreetly. I'm sure the same can't be said for all lapdancing bars.

I also heard several neighbours say that there was rarely any trouble nearby because of its existence (and the bouncers), rather than despite it.

Having said that, the prospect of turning a local pub (even a poor one) into a lapdancing joint fills me with horror. There are a few things this world doesn't need any more of: betting shops, casinos, and lap dancing clubs spring to mind.

I wouldn't want to curtail anyone's freedom from finding (or working in) these dingy and depressing places, I'd just rather they did it in Soho, where at least there is some kind of tradition to it, albeit a slightly sleazy one.

Skitster said...

I've tied myself up in knots over whether striping is intrinsically wrong or not: a leery, beery pub filled with ladish flatulence and the sad chink of pound coins landing in a pint glass is horrible but, as you’ve said Neil, a lot of women find stripping an empowering experience rather than a degrading one. The current rise of burlesque brings this into sharper focus too.

It’s an interesting and difficult debate, but, saying that, I don’t think anyone is actually cheered up by the idea of living near a lap-dancing club but I don’t know enough about the culture within strip-clubs to know whether it is really damaging to the women who work there.

Inspector Sands said...

I used to know a stripper - she'd rip to shreds anyone who said she was a victim...

That said, New Cross is already beery and leery enough without some naff pound-in-a-pint-pot joint, and the cost of doing anything different would probably be too much of a deterrent to the landlord.

bob said...

The context you point out of the crisis in British pubs is crucial. According to figures released this week:

Pub managers are pulling about 14 million pints a day, 1.6 million fewer than last year and 7 million less than at the height of the market in 1979.

The pressures on the industry are speeding up a long-term decline - more than 1400 pubs called last orders for the final time last year.


You can't blame them for looking for alternative solutions!

(Not that I support the White Hart's chosen alternative solution...)

Anonymous said...

Does the landlord not realise that strip bars are considered naff seedy joints and that the latest trend is for burlesque dancers? Burlesque isn't not seedy, you don't need a special license and it's more about humour, style and the dancers having fun than anything else.
There's also a local promoter putting on Ska Burlesque nights.
My advice is let the council know that we don't want strip joints in New Cross and if the landlord has any sense he'll attract custom in other ways i.e. redecorate, provide good food, put on decent bands and if you want saucy try burlesque.

Anonymous said...

Sorry about the double negative. I mean Burlesque isn't seedy (unlike strippers).

Anonymous said...

why was my post deleted - truth hurts I guess. will not be happy until we are all in bexleyheath i suppose. shocking stifling of freedom of speech.

Anonymous said...

you people are clueless off the manor know nothings presiding over the rapid decline of the area i grew up in. why not nip down the shell of the archer london and brighton coach and horses crown and anchor or the albany (more to add to that list to follow) to celebrate how we have moved on from when horrible common white people lived here? I expect this will be deleted too.

Transpontine said...

Your post was deleted because it was racist. End of.

InfoKnow said...

Hi, I am writing a university paper on this pub, and would appreciate it if anyone is willing to answer a few questions on it for me, or if any one has some more info or opinion.

Transpontine, your input would be much appreciated!

thanks.