Putting Acton on the Sex Industry Map
Regeneration or degeneration: Captain Cook application
A controversial new business has applied for a 24 hour licence to sell alcohol and to have music and live entertainment including Pole Dancing and striptease.
The premises in question is the Captain Cook pub, which, before its most recent incarnation as a pub, was run as a night club and before that as a cinema.
The application has been lodged at Ealing Council to change the name of the pub to 'The Libertaire'. In the new club "There shall be adult entertainment of Pole Dancing and Striptease." On the Ealing Council website the opening hours are listed as 24 hours every day except Sunday (9.00pm-1.30am). Permission is sought to increase the capacity of the building to 600 people.
Many residents have expressed alarm at various aspects of the application and it is crucial that anyone wishing to comment sends their objections and concerns to the address in the box to the right before February 14th. Objections will also be considered at an important Council meeting next week.
We spoke today to Police Sergeant Phil Norcutt, who heads Acton Central's Safer Neighbourhood Team. He told us: "We are already patrolling Grove Road and the surrounding area after numerous complaints about antisocial behaviour from people exiting local pubs. We already have policing difficulties, particularly with people coming out of the Windmill Pub.
"I am currently trying to put together information for the licensing sergeant in charge of the Captain Cook application.
"We know of two similar [striptease]establishments in West London. But one is in the middle of Ealing Town Centre, where there are parking restrictions in place until 10pm. This is also a town centre, not a residential area. The other establishment is in Park Royal in the middle of a large industrial estate, so cannot be compared to Acton High Street which is surrounded by residential streets.
"If the Captain Cook is granted the licence they have asked for - until 6.00am - other establishments on the High Street will naturally follow suit. Once a precedent has been set it will be extremely difficult to stop others from following.
"I would ask anyone with concerns to let me know."
Phil Norcutt also added: "Speaking personally, and not as a representative of the Met Police, I must say that I consider the opening of an establishment such as this would lead to degeneration in the area. I know about the regeneration work which is currently being done by Action Acton and others to improve things in Acton, but this would seem to be going in completely the opposite direction."
Action Acton Chief Executive John Blackmore has raised concerns that have been expressed by a number of Acton residents and businesses about the Captain Cook proposals with representatives of the police and local authority.
Residents like Lisa Jennings have expressed their dismay on the ActonW3.com discussion forum at a the idea of a pole-dancing club. She pointed out that there are "retirement homes just down the road and plenty of family homes in the direct area." Lisa asked, "how will the 24 hr licence be policed and how will it affect the local residents?"
Another resident we spoke to said: "I have two teenaged children who are starting to be more independent. They come back from evenings out via the 207 bus and our nearest bus stop is right outside the Captain Cook pub. I'm concerned about their safety and the sort of people who will be hanging around an establishment like this."
Michelle Smith said: "I live in Alfred Road, and we already have a problem with drunk people loudly walking up and down. And where are 600 people going to park? We already have a problem with the Bingo Hall, ie. the streets surrounding it are clogged by 7pm with bingo players so no parking available until they leave at 9 or 10. Not sure that I want to stand at the bus stop in the morning outside the 'New' Captain Cook with my 5 year old and see the detritus of the night before either."
Although some residents said they had no objection to a pole-dancing strip club, others pointed out that such establishments have more sinister implications both for those employed by them and beyond. Patrick Gray said: "it will put Acton on the map as far as the sex industry is concerned and may attract other establishments to the area, as well as bringing an inevitable increase in prostitution." He pointed to links between lap dancing clubs and the trafficking of women for the sex industry.
February 1, 2008