New Cross folk are fuming: Bromley magistrates have overturned Lewisham council's decision to refuse a local pub permission to convert to a lapdancing bar.
The White Hart Hotel is now free to become a 'gentlemen's club' with a licence to host striptease shows and private lapdances. Residents are up in arms, claiming the establishment will encourage noise, trafficking and "mafia-type" activity.
Pub owner Ken Linwood has said that without the new licence his pub would have to close, and he promises it will actually be "a responsibly run gentleman's club but with male strippers there for the ladies as well".
We're having difficulty getting our heads round this one on several levels. Fears of the Corleones moving in seem like a bit of an overreaction when there are so many other things to object to. First, residents have, to all intents and purposes, lost a local amenity (we'd be fascinated to know how many "ladies" decide to nip in for a quick half, a natter and an ogle). Second, the Lilith Project from women's charity Eaves has put together a couple of reports (these are PDFs) detailing more prosaic criminal and antisocial effects surrounding lapdancing clubs (increased harassment and sexual assault on women, rise in illegal minicabs, opportunistic prostitution) that are just as serious but a teensy less reactionary than worrying about New Cross turning into Sicily-without-the-sunshine.
And that's before we get to the objectification of women and pornification culture that lapdancing clubs promote. Judging from comments left at Transpontine, residents will continue to fight the plans. Let's hope they have some more persuasive arguments, and let's hope Mr Linwood can come up with another way to save his business.