A Doncaster barbershop-cum-speak-easy style bar has been given the go-ahead to allow under 18s onto the premises.
The Gentleman’s Retreat in Bawtry was previously granted a licence to extend into a tattoo parlour and bar where burlesque and poker would take place – but Doncaster Council made it subject to the condition that no children would be allowed in.
Business owner James Herrington then applied for a variation to the licence to allow under 18s in, sparking concerns over possible prostitution, trafficking and nudity. Speaking on his behalf to the council’s licensing sub-committee on Wednesday, solicitor Christopher Grunert said: “The premises is run as a gentleman’s barbers so to exclude under 18s is excessive.
“Whenever adult entertainment is offered, under 18s will be excluded completely from the premises. There is no intention to expose under 18s to anything they shouldn’t be.
“This is meant to be a place for pampering and a spa for gentlemen.”
He added that excluding youngsters would also mean that the business could no longer run its apprenticeship scheme.
Objector Jonathan Redden said he was worried about possible nudity and that women employed would be trafficked. He said: “We are getting into a society where misogyny towards women, and women being used as toys, is normal. It drips that type of culture.”
He also said that many people connected burlesque with prostitution and asked: “Are there any safeguards from the council that women employed in certain types of dancing are not trafficked women.”
Licensing officer Paul Wilson said: “We do engage with immigration officers and they make regular checks with licensed premises. The licence holder is personally responsible and they can be prosecuted for employing illegal immigrants.”
The committee was happy with the applicant’s submissions and gave the green light.
Mr Herrington said afterwards: “It’s fantastic. I think what happened was people misunderstood what I was planning, and I may have misworded the application in the first place. I described the business concept to Bawtry Town Council and they removed their objection so that was a bit of a pat on the back. They’d heard lots of rumours so I had to clarify what was planned. With the age restriction taken away it means that our future generations can come in.”