Market forces and a potential cap by the city council should prevent Broad Street being overrun by unwanted strip clubs, according to the man tasked with promoting the Birmingham entertainment district.
Mike Olley, boss of the Broad Street Business Improvement District (BID), said while the proliferation of lap dancing clubs in the area was regrettable, it was unlikely that they would become a dominant feature in the long term.
“We need to be very clear about this, we are not against strip clubs,” said Mr Olley. “Our issue is that we have to get the mix right.”
Mr Olley was making his comments after the city council gave a licence to the Boujee Rooms, the ninth lap dancing club in area, despite opposition from the BID. He said that Broad Street’s continued success was in part down to its proximity to the ICC and that meant there would always be a place for lap dancing establishments.
“We are a convention city and that means we need good restaurants, casinos and high quality strip clubs – that’s just a fact of life. But the amount we currently have is too many.
“However, I believe that while the current number is not good for the area’s reputation, it should be remembered that 80 per cent of the businesses in the area have nothing to do with entertainment.
“Market forces and possible changes in terms of licensing should bring the number down to a more acceptable level. We have a long-term 10 year-plus strategy to for the Broad Street area as an entertainment and business centre and I have no doubt that this is an argument we will win.”
Under new plans being considered for adoption by Birmingham City Council licensing chiefs, the number of strip clubs in the city could be halved.
Birmingham’s 15-strong licensing committee is currently split over what limit to set on sex entertainment venues with a potential limit of just six going to be set when the committee meets on November 17.
Labour group licensing spokeswoman Barbara Dring (Oscott) thinks a cap is needed, but is unsure at which level.
She said: “We have just granted two licences on Broad Street and there could be a dozen more in the pipeline so this change has come at the right time.
“A cap is needed otherwise we could end up with our own version of Soho.”
Other committee members are ready to push for half a dozen. One suggestion is two on Broad Street, two near the Arcadian and two elsewhere.
Such a move would lead to the dozen strip clubs competing for the six licences next year. Solicitor Andrew Potts, likened the competition to a ‘beauty parade’ at a recent licensing hearing.
Committee chairman David Osborne (Lib Dem, South Yardley) does not believe that a limit is necessary and wants to judge every club on its merits.
He said: “I am delighted that we have adopted this new legislation. I am not sure how happy the industry is going to be about it.
“We can now consider moral objections, economic issues such as impact on other businesses and take representations from a wider area. I know there are those who would prefer no lap dancing clubs at all.
"My thoughts are that if we have a cap, we could box ourselves in. It would be better to be flexible, but I am willing to be persuaded otherwise.”