MEMBERS from all parties on Solihull Council voted unanimously to approve a motion issued by Conservative leader Ken Meeson demanding stricter laws on the opening of exotic dancing venues and more council control over how licenses are issued.
The move came at a full council meeting on Tuesday (October 13) after members heard that the licence for The Opal Lounge - now known as Honey Club, - was granted by an officer through delegated powers.
Only members of the Licensing Committee did not speak or vote, on the advice of the council’s solicitors.
Coun Meeson said: “The application for this licence was not reported to Solihull’s Licensing Committee, any elected councillors or the chief executive and I have asked for a full explanation as to how this could have happened. Regrettably this is as a result of the current government removing the powers for local councils to control the setting up of such establishments and denying local people a say in whether they are appropriate in their area. “
Councillors were united in their condemnation of the ‘gentleman’s club’ owned by businessman Richard MacKay and urged him to reconsider his plans. Some called the club ‘vile’ and a ‘smear on the High Street of Solihull.’
Leader of the Opposition, Councillor Ian Hedley (Lib Dem, Shirley East) added: “We are outraged that these plans have been allowed to slip through the net by Tory-run Solihull Council.
“Under the arrangements the council has in place, councillors are bypassed if a licensing application ticks all of the legislative boxes. We have demanded that this is changed to guarantee that councillors are consulted. This situation should never have been allowed to happen.”
The Policing and Crime Bill is making its way through the parliamentary process, which seeks to reclassify lap dancing clubs so they require a sex establishment licence to give local people a say in their establishment and location.
Honey Club is set to open on October 23 on High Street, Solihull.