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CONTROVERSIAL: James Bond style lap dancing club gets licence to thrill

CONTROVERSIAL: James Bond style lap dancing club gets licence to thrill

City Vaults in Newcastle's Bigg Market, Image: NCJ Media

Controversial plans to open a lap-dancing club in Newcastle City centre have been given the go-ahead by the council.

The owners of Bigg Market venue City Vaults have been allowed to turn its first floor into a “James Bond style” gentlemen’s club known as Whiskey Down.

Councillors were due to rule in late August on whether to grant a Sexual Entertainment Venue (SEV) Licence for the venue to open, but the decision was delayed because more opposition to the scheme emerged after applicant Tokyo Industries re-advertised it.

Since then, however, Northumbria Police and another business withdrew their objections.

In a letter to the authority Coun Jane Byrne, who represents Monument, raised fears about the safety of the venue’s performers.

A neighbouring city centre bar, Hibou Blanc,  complained that the new City Vaults development “will have a detrimental impact on the area and will be a backwards step for the area”.

Despite these objections the authority’s Licensing Sub-Committee granted the SEV licence following their meeting last Tuesday.

However, the area defined as “The Garden Bar” on the basement plan of the venue will not form part of the licensed premises.

The committee also ruled that when the first floor is trading as a destination lap dancing venue the only means of customer access to and exit from the first floor licensed area must be direct from the front door of the premises.

They also stated capacity of the first floor licensed area is limited to no more than 120 customers – not inclusive of staff or performers.

Tokyo Industries MD Aaron Mellor previously said the “pretty cool and gender inclusive” venue would offer a “cross between stage burlesque performance and traditional private lap dancing”, with entry charged between £10 and £20.

He described Whiskey Down as a “a super high end whiskey lounge, fitted out like an old ‘James Bond’ style gentlemen’s smoking club from the 70s”.

At Tuesday’s meeting of Newcastle Council’s licensing sub-committee, Mr Mellor, said: “The fear of sexual entertainment venue premises isn’t the reality of how we operate them and how they are regulated by city councils.

“We have got a very high list of the world’s best whiskies, gins and American bourbons.

“We’re trying to change the way in which SEVs are known and make them more gender inclusive.”

 

Words: Herbert Soden, Local Democracy Reporter


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