A group of councillors were slammed yesterday for using taxpayers’ money to fund a ”fact finding” mission – to a STRIP CLUB.
The thirteen officials say they visited the pole dancing venue in order to help make ”informed decisions” about licensing laws.
Ten members of Cornwall Council’s Miscellaneous Licensing Committee were joined on the trip by three council officers.
The group – eleven men and two women – spent an evening at Temptations T2 gentlemen’s club in Plymouth, Devon.
They visited the club, which features scantily clad women sliding up and down poles, after the committee agreed to adopt new Government legislation.
Under the laws strip or pole dancing clubs have been reclassified as ”sexual entertainment venues”.
It means the night spots will have to undergo rigorous checks to make sure they do not breach new rules.
The councillors say they visited the club for ”fact finding” and to help them make future decisions and implement the legislation.
They have refused to reveal much money was spent on the trip but a similar exercise in Glasgow cost an estimated £7,000.
The group say the visit was ”an ”extremely worthwhile visit” but campaigners have branded it ”appalling and unnecessary”.
Newquay resident Tracy Earnshaw, who has called for strip clubs in the resort to be shut, said it was ”ridiculous” that all thirteen people had to go.
She said: ”’The committee is not there to form an opinion – the Government has done that. To go on this trip at the taxpayers’ expense makes it particularly galling.
”The whole thing would be amusing if it wasn’t so fanciful, appalling and unnecessary. It is insulting to the taxpayers;s intelligence.”
A spokesman for The Taxpayer’s Alliance added: ”To claim that they needed to do this as a fact-finding mission makes a mockery of the system.
‘If they really feel they need to make this visit, why not send one member to go and then report back – at least then they would be spending less taxpayers’ money on this ridiculous exercise.”
Under Government laws, lap-dancing clubs will be classified as sex encounter establishments rather than pubs and cafes, and will have to apply to their council for a new licence.
It means that for the first time authorities will have to take into consideration complaints about the number in a town or those wanting to operate in a residential area or near a church or school.
Committee chairman Jim Flashman, 61, confirmed he went on the trip on June 29.
He said: ”It has clarified many questions for the committee and will enable us to make fully informed decisions in the future.
”Members who attended the visit appreciated the frank and open discussions with both the manageress and staff as without this honesty, we would have left well informed.”
Fellow committee member, councillor Scott Mann, added: ”I want to make sure I am as well-informed as possible about issues which will have an impact on a lot of people.”
Lisa Dolley, vice chairman, added: ”As a woman I have never had the opportunity to visit such clubs and without the visit I would have been completely uninformed.”
A council spokesman said they wanted to visit premises out of the county which were unconnected with businesses in Cornwall which might come before their committee.
He said the group had shared transport where possible, kept expenses ”to a minimum” and carried out the mission in a ”strictly professional manner”
The spokesman also said the council members did not watch any entertainment.
He said: ”A lot of the committee members have never been to a lap-dancing club and they talked to the managers and looked at the effect on the local area.
”They will be dealing with issues affecting the local area and in the local neighbourhood, like what kind of advertising the clubs can have outside their premises.”