CONTROVERSIAL plans for a lap-dancing club in Sunderland city centre have been given the go-ahead – despite objections from the Mayor.
Privilege, in Crowtree Road, has been granted a Sex Establishment Licence to hold risqué entertainment, including lap-dancing, pole-dancing and strip shows.
Mayor of Sunderland and Millfield councillor Iain Kay objected to the move, which he feared would be “detrimental” to the neighbourhood and send “mixed signals” to potential developers.
However, at a meeting of Sunderland City Council’s regulatory committee this week, fellow councillors gave the green light to the proposals.
Members heard how ETH Leisure, which runs the venue, had agreed to conditions laid down by the authority and Northumbria Police, including CCTV coverage, staff training and monitoring of cubicles where dancing takes place.
Joe Sheriff, a company director, said adult entertainment would only be held upstairs in a “discreet function room” and mainly on match days.
“We have in place all of the procedures to meet the standards contained in Sunderland Council’s sexual entertainment venue licensing policy,”£ he said. “As well as the conditions laid out by Northumbria Police.
The meeting was also told how Privilege had no plans to convert its sister venue, Brogans, into a similar attraction.
Ahead of the hearing, Coun Kay, who is not a member of the committee, raised concerns about the location of the club.
“My objection is based on the published proposals by the council for that area of the city centre as part of the re-modelling of St Mary’s Way and the critical preliminary development of the Vaux site.
“In the immediate future, we have a vision for the area of the city as a public open space where families can enjoy a spot of rest and relaxation in the middle of a busy city.
“As a city council, it is critical that we take all steps necessary to raise the profile and image of this area within the city centre and allowing such a licence at this time would be very much to the detriment of the exciting family orientated future this area has available to it.”
Father Michael McCoy, of St Joseph’s in Millfield and St Anee’s in Pennywell, also raised fears.
He said: “The granting of this licence would be very much to the detriment of our city and in particular to this area, which we hoped would be developed into an open space where families could relax in the middle of a busy city centre.
“The parishes we serve here in our area of Sunderland are large, vibrant communities and include many young families.
“We know that many of these families and many others in our parishes would welcome the redevelopment of parts of the city centre in to ‘family orientated’ areas - the granting of the licence for the club would seriously harm this.
“We strive in our parish communities to uphold the dignity of all people and to support family life, and don’t want to see this club opened in the heart of our city centre.”