City licensing chiefs are heading for a battle over new plans to limit lap dancing clubs in Birmingham.

A draft version of the new council policy to restrict and control strip clubs, or sexual entertainment venues as they are officially known, has rejected the chance to set a quota for Birmingham.

It will be presented to the 15-strong licensing committee on Wednesday.

But a significant number of committee members, including Labour spokeswoman Barbara Dring and several Conservative members, support a cap.

At present Birmingham has about a dozen licensed strip clubs, including five on Broad Street, but supporters of a cap would like to see that number halved.

They fear that Broad Street is becoming an unofficial red light district and that as more clubs open the quality may decline.

Officials, backed by Liberal Democrat chairman David Osborne, believe that not setting a limit will give them greater control and allow them to judge each venue on its own merits.

Coun Osborne (Lib Dem, South Yardley) said: “I have been to a conference with leading licensing lawyers who say that it is better to not set a cap, because it might fetter our future decisions. This way we have total discretion to judge each club on its own.

“I’ll look forward to a healthy debate with the committee,” he added.

The new powers, which will come into force on January 3, 2011, gives the committee greater freedom to reject strip club licenses and the ability to set higher license fees. The proposed fee for a new licence is £9,935 and £5,070 for a renewal or variation.

The draft policy states that sites near residential areas, shopping centres frequented by families, tourist attractions, places frequently visited by families such as schools, swimming pools and parks and places of worship are inappropriate.

The policy comes into force on January 3 and the new licenses will be decided and awarded in July 2011. Existing venues will be allowed to continue until January 3, 2012.