Hackney’s nil sex policy gets go-ahead from licensing committee

But recommendation will be for well-run and long-standing existing establishments to remain

Hackney Council’s licensing committee voted tonight for a ‘nil’ policy on sex establishments in the borough - although an overwhelming majority of residents opposed the proposals in a consultation.

But the committee’s zero tolerance recommendations – which will come before a full meeting of the council on January 26 for approval – will allow the five existing sex establishments in Haggerston to remain.

Instead of saying that five establishments are allowed in Haggerston however, the proposals recommend each of Hackney’s 19 wards are not allowed any sex establishments.

A clause then adds that the council will make an exception to Haggerston’s “well-run and long-standing” sex establishments – referring to strip clubs Ye Olde Axe, Browns, Rainbow Sports Bar, and The White Horse and sex shop Expectations, which had all feared closure.

Chairman Christopher Kennedy explained: “To ensure only the existing ones operate, we have been told to put nil in all 19 wards, otherwise it would impact on all the other 18 wards.”

Cllr for Victoria ward, Jeff Taylor said it was not a ‘nil’ policy up front, but would lead to a ‘nil’ policy by stealth.

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“What is being hoped by somebody is the clubs will wither on the vine, and we will finish up with what the people of Hackney have said they don’t want,” he said.

“So as they close, they will stay closed - despite the fact that two thirds of residents said that wasn’t what they wanted to happen.

“What was consulted on was either a nil policy or no policy - and I don’t approve of the policy, and I don’t approve of the method.”

Cllr for Brownswood ward, Brian Bell added: “If you go outside this room and say paragraph 5.1.3 is a nil policy, they’d laugh at you.”

The results of the town hall’s consultation, which ran from September 20 to December 13 last year, showed that 66 per cent of those that took part were against a ‘nil’ licensing policy on strip clubs in Hackney.

A higher proportion - 76 per cent - of residents living near to the clubs, which are in Shoreditch High Street and Hackney Road, disagreed with the proposals.