A decision by Harrogate Borough Council to refuse to renew a Sexual Entertainment Venue Licence (SEV) to Villa Mercedes in Harrogate stands after an appeal against the decision was withdrawn at Harrogate Magistrates’ Court on Monday 16 November 2015.
Harrogate Magistrates’ Court had been asked to consider an appeal against a refusal by Harrogate Borough Council to renew a Sexual Entertainment Venue (SEV) licence for Villa Mercedes, 1 Oxford Street, Harrogate.
On Monday the Court declined a request for an adjournment of the appeal hearing which had been made by the operator, Tabasco Leisure Ltd, who then decided to withdraw the appeal. The General Manager of Villa Mercedes, Mr David Nosegbe, was ordered to pay £3,000 in costs to the council.
A Sexual Entertainment Venue (SEV) is one which offers any live performance or live display of nudity. The licence for these activities is separate from the licence which permits the sale of alcohol and other entertainments.
On 20 August 2015 Harrogate Borough Council’s Licensing Sub-Committee refused to renew the SEV licence for Villa Mercedes for various reasons, including repeated breach of licence conditions, failure of management, physical contact with dancers and allowing audience participation. Evidence was presented at the meeting by North Yorkshire Police and Harrogate Borough Council’s Licensing Enforcement Team. Tabasco Leisure Ltd subsequently chose to appeal this decision to the Magistrates’ Court.
Councillor John Ennis is the Chair of Harrogate Borough Council’s Licensing Committee. He said:
An SEV licence grants permission for premises to provide sexual entertainment strictly for adults only, and in a controlled environment. The licence is granted in accordance with council policy and operators must comply with all the conditions attached to it. The conditions set boundaries and ensure that customers and dancers are properly protected.
The operator of Villa Mercedes repeatedly fell short of what is required and failed to manage the premises and dancers. This was despite considerable input from the council and the police over a period of six months.
Today’s outcome confirms the council’s strong stance in relation to underperforming premises. It also provides reassurance to other operators that there is a level playing field and that the rules are being properly policed.
Sexual entertainment will cease at Villa Mercedes with immediate effect. However, the club is permitted to continue to sell alcohol and provide entertainment of a non-sexual nature.