Lap-dancing chain Spearmint Rhino plans to open club in Bristol
A HIGH-profile lap-dancing club has announced it wants to come to Bristol even though the council launched a crackdown on the sex trade and numbers of venues in the city centre earlier this year.
Spearmint Rhino, which is known as a haunt for celebrities in London at its biggest club in the West End, has said it is in negotiations to open a club in Bristol city centre. The new club would employ around 150 staff, including the dancers, and would be aimed at the top end of the market.
And although Bristol City Council has a policy of limiting the number of strip clubs in the city, the company is confident that it will be opening in Bristol within a year.
Spearmint Rhino already owns five clubs across London, including its biggest venue on Tottenham Court Road, but it is looking to double the amount of venues by moving into the major regional cities.
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The firm is also looking at Manchester, Birmingham and Leeds, and says demand is returning for "high class" nights out.
John Specht, pictured, the boss of the firm, said: "We saw a real upsurge in trade as a result of the Olympics coming to London over the summer. We believe that there has been a big improvement in the market in recent weeks and as a result we have been looking to expand into cities such as Bristol.
"We have been looking at various sites in Bristol and are in negotiations with various organisations."
The company said it was not aware of the city council's policy on lap-dancing clubs.
At the start of the year Lounge@30 in Clare Street lost its licence following a city-wide review. The council said it was a poorly managed club that promoted itself too explicitly.
However, three other lap-dancing clubs had their licences approved, after more than a week of hearings into the industry.
Urban Tiger in Broad Quay, Central Chambers in Small Street and Temptations in West Street, Old Market all had their licences renewed.
All four had to reapply for permission to allow striptease shows after the council changed its rules on lap-dancing clubs.
Concerns had been raised by feminist groups and some residents that the city centre clubs in particular were in inappropriate locations. They claimed the clubs led to harassment and assaults on women and said the dancers were poorly treated.
But the council's licensing committee felt the three whose applications were approved were well run, although they will have to operate under stricter controls than before.