Council admits it got equality law wrong when granting licence
9th May 2017
Sheffield City Council has acknowledged in court proceedings that it failed to meet its statutory duty to consider the impact on women’s equality when granting a new licence to Spearmint Rhino last May.
The judicial review of Sheffield City Council’s decision to renew Spearmint Rhino’s sexual entertainment venue licence in May 2016, was the first of its kind.
There were 71 objections many of which highlighted the impact of sexual entertainment venues (SEVs) on gender equality and made reference to the Council’s obligations to the Public Sector Equality Duty.
The Council made no reference to the Public Sector Equality Duty in its determination notice or minutes. The numerous concerns raised about the impact of such venues on gender equality were dismissed as “moral objections.”
However, Mrs Justice Jefford made the following observations in the permission order allowing the judicial review to go ahead:
“There is no direct evidence that the Defendant [Sheffield City council] has had due regard to the Public Sector Equality Duty (as it is required to do under s.149 of the Equality Act 2010). The decision gives no indication that it has been considered.”
“Further, there is a tenable basis for the Claimant’s inference that the Defendant has wrongly ignored objections based on the potential impact on gender equality, treating them as moral objections and irrelevant.”
The judicial review was due to be heard on 9th and 10th May 2017. However, the Claimant (who wishes to remain anonymous) and the Council have agreed to settle the case on the basis that the Council acknowledges that it “failed to comply with the public sector equality duty when making its decision on 16th May 2016.”
Zero Option has supported the Claimant throughout this process and welcomes this settlement and the Council’s acknowledgement. It is hoped that this will raise awareness of the need for public bodies to comply with the Public Sector Equality Duty when making decisions; they must consider any negative impacts on gender equality as to fail to do so is unlawful.
The Claimant is represented by Louise Whitfield of Deighton Pierce Glynn andKaron Monaghan QC of Matrix Chambers.
Louise Whitfield says:
“This is an important victory for my client and many others who are very concerned about the harmful impact of sex entertainment venues on women. The Council now accepts that they were wrong to ignore the concerns raised about the sexual objectification of women, and to dismiss these as ‘moral objections’. It is now clear that a local authority considering any such licence applications must look long and hard at the adverse impact on gender equality of letting such an enterprise exist at all. Otherwise it will be acting unlawfully and will be subject to legal challenge.”
The original article can be seen on the Zero Option pages HERE
Further coverage on the Matrix Chambers site HERE