Lap-landed - fury at St Helens' first strip club

St Helens' first lap dancing bar is to open on Thursday night.

The upper floor of the Joker's Bar, Ormskirk Street, has been converted into Laplicious, featuring a host of scantily glad girls.

David Keith, premises license owner, said: "St Helens has not got a lap dancing bar.

"Every major town has one and I feel St Helens is a modern and forward looking town. A lot of people have to travel to Manchester or Liverpool at the moment.

"Everything is in order. If anybody's got any complaints we are going to listen to everything.

"There is always going to be for and against. It's not sleazy, or dirty - it's a bit of fun. St Helens may like lap dancing, they may not."

Mr Keith already had a license which allowed him to have a lap dancing venue.

He has worked closely with St Helens Council's head of licensing David Breeze and the police to ensure all guidelines have been met.

He added: "We have got a code of practice. That involves strictly no admission to under 18s, absolutely no touching of the girls and all the performers must be over the age of 18.

"None of the performers are allowed to dress or use any props which would indicate there were under the age of 18 - they can't use a school uniform."

However, church leaders are far from happy, branding the bar 'exploitative'.

Tim Hyde, minister of St Helens Baptist Church, said: "It's not something I would be in favour of.

"There is enough pressure on people's relationships as there is in the town and such venues probably don't help in many ways.

"I don't think it's fun - to me it's a form of exploitation of male, female relationships."

A spokeswoman for St Helens Council said: "The Joker's Bar has an entertainments license.

"Under new legislation they do not have to apply for a further license. The council have no jurisdiction.

"The club puts its own things into place and it complies with the legislation."

Two years ago businessman Tony Callaghan, owner of the Yesteryear Pub company, was looking to set up a lap dancing club in the town centre.

But the venture never got off the ground and Mr Callaghan, who already owns the lap dancing club Stilettos in Wigan, has no current plans to pursue it any further.

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