Memorandum submitted by the Cathedral Church of St Nicholas, Newcastle upon Tyne

 

1/ I am writing on behalf of the Chapter of the Cathedral Church of St Nicholas, Newcastle upon Tyne. We are the Cathedral for the Diocese of Newcastle. As part of our mission we have a wide remit including religious services, music and choral singing, being open to visitors from the diocese and tourists, as well as educational activities for all ages.

 

2/ The Cathedral has recently come up against the Licensing Act 2003 while we were trying to make comment on the proposal to open a Lap Dancing club next to the Cathedral.

 

3/ The position of the Cathedral in Newcastle is that there is a row of old buildings along half the length of the north side of the Cathedral with a narrow lane between the two. This narrow lane provides access to the Cathedral offices and refectory as well as the car park. In one of these buildings, whose back door and windows look out onto the lane, the proposal was to open a Lap Dancing Club.

 

4/ It appears that under the terms of the Act it was almost impossible for us to have any grounds for objection to this club unless we were a resident. Being perceived as a business we could not object on many grounds despite having a number of 7 - 13 year old members of the Cathedral Choir being driven past the establishment many times each week. The fact that it is inappropriate to position a sex contact establishment next to a major Church, community building or school does not seem to have any bearing at all as the establishment was treated as a pub.

 

5/ Our strong feeling is that the Act should be altered so as to distinguish between drinking and sex establishments and to make it clearer that positioning sex establishments is inappropriate near to any form of community, educational or religious building. In its current form it is far too difficult for poorly funded objectors to try to convince licensing committees to reject an application on these grounds when they know the applicant will launch a costly appeal. Similar problems occur with objecting to very late night drinking licenses.

 

September 2008