Bristol mayoral election: Marvin Rees defends strip club ban pledge

Marvin Rees
Image caption Labour candidate Marvin Rees was runner-up in the 2012 election

A Labour mayoral candidate has defended his promise to try to ban strip clubs from Bristol - after a social media backlash from women working in the industry.

Marvin Rees pledged to rid the city of sexual entertainment venues if he is elected, arguing they could "feed into" wider inequality.

But stripper Esme Worrell branded the idea "short-sighted" and "patronising".

Mr Rees said he would work with the council's licensing committee.

'Bandwagon jumping'

He was criticised after he announced the pledge on via Twitter on International Women's Day, along with a promise to make half of his cabinet women and to prioritise abuse victims for social housing.

Strippers took the site to accuse him of "trying to destroy the livelihood of hundreds of women", "bandwagon jumping" and "criminalising" women in the industry.

Ms Worrell, from Bristol, said Mr Rees should investigate the clubs himself to see how they are run.

She said: "I think a man storming in and telling us that he's going to ban our work ... it is patronising because why should somebody be telling me what I should be doing with my body?

"In a consensual adult shouldn't be able to police other people's work choices, if they are legal."

'Listened to women'

The committee, not the mayor, decides on the policy around venues - which offer lap dancing, pole dancing, and strip shows.

Mr Rees said his pledge was backed by the mayor's women's commission.

"In the last election, all mayoral candidates supported a 'nil cap' on sexual entertainment venues. We've just listened to what women have said," he said.

He said a "real concern" was whether the venues "feed into wider inequalities that are faced by women". "Is the price paid by wider Bristol very very high for this?"

Mr Rees will go up against the current, independent mayor George Ferguson in May. Other candidates selected so far include Lib Dem Kay Barnard, Conservative Charles Lucas, Green candidate Tony Dyer and UKIP's Paul Turner.

In 2012 Swansea and Wellingborough, Northamptonshire, banned sex entertainment venues.

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