Wednesday, 7 September 2011

Have your say on strip clubs and sex shops in Tower Hamlets!

Tower Hamlets Council is consulting on the location of sex establishments in Tower Hamlets.  Click Have your say on strip clubs in Tower Hamlets to find out more.  This consultation on new draft policy covers sex establishment licences covering:
  • sex entertainment venues 
  • sex cinemas 
  • sex shops
People in Tower Hamlets are being given their first chance to influence whether strip clubs and similar venues should be allowed to operate in the borough, under a new consultation launched this week.

The council wants to gather community opinions on a draft policy which says that there is no location within Tower Hamlets suitable for sex establishments, and that they should be restricted to ‘nil’. The consultation is open to residents, local businesses and organisations.
MERA very much welcomes this consultation.  Our past consultation with local residents (in relation to other licensed activities) suggests that many may well agree with the nature of the proposals in the new policy ie that there is nowhere in Tower Hamlets which is suitable for establishments of this sort.

MERA will be responding.  We'd be very happy to receive your comments for inclusion in that response.  

How to respond as an individual

Should you also wish to respond as individual you may want to review the following documents which form the consulattion.  Unlike the Council's website we've provided you with a guide as to what each document says
The maps included totally lack any title which identifies their purpose.  A number of them seem very similar.  Below is an initial appraisal of what they seem to be - looked at in isolation.
  • Download Appendix Map 1 (pdf, 810kb) - this defines the 24 areas of Tower Hamlets and defines the borders of "Mile End" - an extract can be seen above
  • Download Appendix Map 2 (pdf, 930kb) - this defines where the schools and places of religion are and the boundaries of a 200 metres buffer zone around sex establishments.  The nearest "sex encounter establishments" to Mile End are in the Whitechapel, Stepney and Bromley by Bow areas.  There are no sex establishments in Mile End area although part of the Stepney buffer zone crosses the boundary into the Mile End area.  (Note - This Map does NOT demonstrate what it is purported to do by the draft policy)
  • Download Appendix Map 3 (pdf, 9.5mb) defines the boundaries of the borough and localities and  demonstrates the location and very high concentration of residential areas 
  • Download Appendix Map 4 (pdf, 840kb) - appears to be absolutely identical to Appendix 2
  • Download Appendix Map 5 (pdf, 701kb) - defines the location of sports and leisure facilities in Tower Hamlets
  • Download Appendix Map 6 (pdf, 926kb) - identifies resources for children and play facilities  (ie schools, play groups and children's centres) in each locality.  It incidentally also identifies the total absence of any such structured play resources in the MERA area despite the very high number so children and families.
  • Download Appendix Map 7 (pdf, 738kb) - suggests that there is a uniform spread of schools and children centres through the borough - for most children.
  • Download Appendix Map 8 (pdf, 902kb) - demonstrates the variable distribution of places of worship in the Borough
  • Download Appendix Map 9 (pdf, 703kb) - demonstrates that for most of the borough that there is a uniform spread of hospitals, doctors and dentist
Residents, local businesses and organisations can contribute to the consultation by completing the online survey at However please note that you do NOT have to complete this form and the Council should also supply an email address for any responses which do not fit this form - even if it has neglected to do so!
Submitting your views

We would prefer you to submit your responses by completing the online survey at

Alternatively, you can complete the form in this booklet and return it to us using this freepost address:FREEPOST RRYE-RZAB-KBSX Consultation Mulberry Place London E14 2BG

The closing date for responses is Monday 17 October 2011.

A draft policy has been produced which has been agreed by the council to be the basis of this consultation. The policy can be obtained on request by ringing the council’s Licensing Service on 020 7364 5008 or emailing
The Council suggests that the type of factors which it will consider relevant are as follows
In considering issues of the character of the locality and the vicinity of the premises, the Council may also have regard to the following factors:-
a) the proximity of residents to the premises, including any sheltered housing and accommodation for vulnerable persons
b) the proximity of educational establishments to the premises
c) theproximityofplacesofworshiptothepremises
e) access routes to and from schools, play areas, nurseries, children’s & centres or similar premises
f) the proximity to shopping centres 
g) the proximity to community facilities / halls and public buildings such as swimming pools, leisure centres, public parks, youth centres / clubs (this list is not exhaustive)
h) the potential impact of the licensed activity on crime and disorder and public nuisance
i) the potential cumulative impact of licensed premises in the area taking into account the days and hours of operation of the activity and the character of the locality where the premises are situated
j) the nature and concerns of any objections received from residents/establishments objecting to the licence application.
k) anyevidenceofcomplaintsaboutnoiseand/ordisturbance caused by the premises.
l) current planning permission/ planning requirements on the premises m) any current planning policy considerations
n) proximity of other sex establishments
o) whether there is planned regeneration of the area
p) any current licences related to the premises in relation to activities, uses and hours
q) comments / observations of the Police and Council Officers, including compliance with licensing conditions, relevant history (including noise complaints) together with details of previous convictions/ prosecutions pending.
The nature of the consultation

A number of points need to be highlighted
  • we must note that YET AGAIN Tower Hamlets Council has FAILED to notify local Residents Associations in Tower Hamlets about important Community Consultations.
  • The definition of the area referred to as Mile End has changed in this consultation compared to other consultations by the Council eg for planning purposes and community planning purposes.  We certainly commented to the Core Strategy consultation on the way in which consulting on areas without detailed and defined borders was most unhelpful to public consultation.  We're left wondering when the community had an opportunity to comment on the definition of these areas!

A new defined area for Mile End for planning and consultation purposes?
  • Yet again the Council is trying to structure feedback to the consultation process in a way which may prevent useful feedback.  While useful and administratively efficient for an analysis of responses, the use of a form fails to acknowledge that there may be things that people want to say which don't fit the form.  
  • An email for written responses should also have been supplied.

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