Shrewsbury lap dancing club bid attacked

Controversial plans have been submitted for Shrewsbury’s first lap dancing club, to the dismay of locals who today condemned the proposals as ‘degrading’.

Source Vodka Bar in Barker Street. Image: Google Street View
Source Vodka Bar in Barker Street. Image: Google Street View

A weekly lap dancing night could be introduced at Source Vodka Bar in Barker Street, under plans revealed today. Owner Rob Bywater has applied for a licence to use the bar as a ‘sex encounter establishment’.

The bar is just yards from the town’s sixth form college and 16th century mansion Rowley’s House.

Mr Bywater plans to host a weekly event, featuring a mixture of pole dancing in the club area and lap dances in private booths. He said he had received no complaints following ‘successful’ trial nights run once a month between August and December last year.

But councillors in the town have hit out at the plans, claiming it might attract unwanted visitors from the West Midlands and that the industry is ‘degrading’ to women.

Shropshire councillor Miles Kenny, who is also the county’s Liberal Democrat spokesman for equalities and diversity, said: “This isn’t the sort of thing the town needs or wants.

“It’s degrading to women. The worst thing is that people might come in from other parts of the West Midlands who might bring in their own problems.”

A licensing application has been submitted to Shropshire Council and if approved the venture could be up and running by Easter.

Mr Bywater said: “We tried to launch this last year and it was very successful and now we want to run them on a weekly basis so we need to apply for a license.”

If approved the club night would take place every Thursday and see punters pay entry on-the-door.

A spokesman for Shropshire Council said: “Anyone wishing to make representations should do so in writing to Licensing Team Leader, Shropshire Council, Shirehall, Abbey Foregate, Shrewsbury, by March 6.”

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Comments for: "Shrewsbury lap dancing club bid attacked"


Why not? It Mr Bywaters thinks he can make money out lap and pole dancing let him have a go. It's not compulsory to attend or work there. (That is if the DWP do not apply sanctions for refusing to become a lap dancer).

I somehow doubt that it will cause any more damage to Rowley House than the existing Source Bar or to anyone or any where else.

I assume that all the other limitations in terms of noise and disturbance will apply as it will remain a licensed premise and will be closed down it is nuisance. Charged by the Police for their officers attending (A popular duty no doubt).

Personally I just can't see anyone paying out any more money to justify the additional expense of the entertainment so I think it will die of natural causes quite quickly. If not it will make the Town Centre no worse than it is now and might just take the drinkers minds off the booze for short while.

The building its self has a long history of being a seedy place to go, back as far as the Barker Street Gang of Bikers terrorising the bus station users with their antics 50 years ago. They may have changed to name from the Slipper to all sorts of other things along the way but it will never be loss to the lofty cultural heritage of the town.


Barker Street gang? i'm intrigued, were they mod and rockers etc? funny isnt we always presume things were quieter back in the day!


It was before Mod’s and Rockers. More like a much diluted Hell's Angels. They were more intimidating than violent to the public. That said there were plenty of fights and the girls were a part of that with their Stiletto Heels and some were quite nasty. But just as now there were troublesome groups and a riot squad from both constabularies (Shrewsbury and Shropshire) who applied a robust reaction to it. It all calmed down for a while after the Monkmoor Hotel was trashed followed by prison sentences for the leaders.

It had a lot to do with alcohol in those days, now It's more to do drugs and somehow nastier. Not forgetting that back then Shrewsbury was the Light Infantry Depot and trained recruits which was another source of friction. I am surprised that the Shropshire Star has never reflected on that seedier side of Shrewsbury. But I suppose consideration should be given to the fact that many involved still live here and may not enjoy having their past dragged out again.


I honestly wonder if people care much either way about this sort of thing these days.

You'd hope that anyone seeking employment at such a club would be treated with respect, given a decent wage, allowed to keep any tips, and protected by the management from any problems with customers (if indeed problems are likely to arise in the first place....?)

I'm always amused by people like Councillor Kenny, who pronounce - probably without having done any sort of straw poll in advance - that it's not needed or wanted. But since when did many Councillors care what the people who voted them in think?

Also, his belief that "The worst thing is that people might come in from other parts of the West Midlands who might bring in their own problems.” is absolutely laughable. They've got places like this already in the West Midlands, surely? And is it not just as likely that people from Shropshire and the borders might also bring "their own problems" in? What an idiot.

H. St. John Peasbody

I have no problem with this 'sex encounter establishment' as long as creche facilities are provided.

Simple Simon

"It's degrading!"

To whom, the women to take their clothes off and are well paid for it, or the the men who pay lots of money for a not so cheap thrill?

My view is it is more degrading to the men than the women. But a fool and his money is soon parted.

Robin Hood

this is not the kind of thing I want for my town, it is exploitative and unnecessary

it is naive to think that women "choose" to lap dance because it pays well and because they don't mind getting their kit off in public and providing all the other "extras" in the private booths

lap dancing clubs have long been linked with human trafficking, prostitution and other criminal activity - not something we should be encouraging or dressing up as harmless fun

Simple Simon

One might argue that football is also exploitative and unnecessary, so should that also be banned? Just because someone doesn’t like something, then there is no reason to “ban it”.

You make the unsubstantiated statement “lap dancing clubs have long been linked with human trafficking, prostitution and other criminal activity” This is a very interesting question, may I suggest you look at Brooke L Magnanti work and specifically her paper “The impact of adult entertainment on rape statistics in Camden: a re-analysis” Admittedly it is looking at sexual crimes and adult entertainment, rather than human trafficking and prostitution, but it does highlight the hysteria associated with the adult industry and those whose are not prepared to have a sensible discussion about it.

Local girl

Simple Simon,

You put so many words in Robin Hood's mouth and fling in such a lot of non-sequiturs in response that it's hard to know where to begin, but here goes...

- For a start, he doesn't say anything should be 'banned', just that he doesn't want a lap dancing club in his town.

- I'm struggling to see how could it be argued that football is exploitative.

- Your argue that Robin Hood hasn't substantiated his claims about human trafficking and prostitution but the a piece of research you quote isn't about either.

- A single piece of research isn't conclusive. You seem to have done your homework, and if so you'll be aware of the evidence linking human trafficking and prostitution to 'adult entertainment' as well as the one paper that you quote to support your case.


No UK club has been linked to human trafficking or prostitution and all the studies I have see say that lap dancing clubs create a fraction of the trouble other late night venues do.

I can understand people not approving but to invent scare stories is typical of the opposition to these places. If you don't like it , don't go in and if nobody goes in it will soon shut .

Robin Hood

why would the national press quote academic research on this issue if it weren't true?

in the 4 years after lap dancing clubs proliferated in the London Borough of Camden, police statistics record a 33% increase in rape and a 55% increase in indecent assault - it may be coincidence but is it really worth the risk for the women and girls of our town?


The Camden thing was based on picking 1 bad year for rapes and comparing it to another year that was lower. Actually if you look at the stats rapes have fallen consistently in Camden since the strip joints opened and are lower than at similar boroughs like Lambeth which have no strip places. The most cursory study of the stats {available on line via the police} have shown this for 6 ot 7 years but still half wits quote Lilith to justify their prejudices. The Magnati research goes into this in great depth. All the other research I have seen has come to similar conclusions {eg the recent study by Kent Uni, an FOI request produced stats for Newquay etc etc} and "proven links" with prositution or trafficking in the UK don't exist. Inventing crimes is not a reason to stop consenting adults performing legal activities.

Robin Hood

Coincidentally, your information, like Simple Simon's, can be traced back to research carried out by L Magnanti! Small world.


That's because the Magnanti report is published and available, I'd looked at the stats in a less sophisticated way many years ago and pointed out that in contrast to what Lilith had said rapes and assaults had actually fallen in Camden since the strip clubs opened.

No uk study has been done on people trafficking and lap dance clubs but Operation Quest in Ireland found no link, more recent studies by Leeds Uni found that dancers had above average job satisfaction and were better educated than the norm. Against this we have the Lilith report which features statistics as dodgy as a Findus ready meal !

Robin Hood

Bill, Dr Magnanti (alias Belle de Jour) made a small fortune from the sex industry and possibly still does.

To suggest that her report is objective and statistically sound is naiive.

Tiffany McStrutt

"The worst thing is that people might come in from other parts of the West Midlands who might bring in their own problems"

That is a very funny statement, though I expect the irony might be lost on Mr. Kenny. Spend some time up the other end of the town councillor, Shrewsbury isn't all Flower Shows and WI Meetings you know.

Michael Wilkinson

I would consider lap dancing degrading to men and not the women who exploit them.

If you don't like the idea don't go to the club,it surly is that simple

Kevin Moore

hahahaha i live in Thailand and find this story highly amusing, enough said !


And what is wrong with visitors from the West-Midlands!?? are they any different to visitors from Shropshire or elsewhere!

the town is like many others... on it's knees, you can't blame the landlord for taking this initiative (revenue for the town) and after all it's no different to the PRIVATE SHOP.

local resident

I'm a local resident and was also a woman the last time I checked and I certainly don't find it degrading, in fact if i was a bit fitter and more outgoing, i'd probably apply for a job!

local resident #2

of course you would, love - a wonderful career opportunity for decent, self-respecting women

Jasper Bergman

Reading this message board, I'm thinking that Rob Bywater is a popular guy! Well done for rallying your troops. Fingers crossed more will be rallied to oppose this crap proposal.


I wonder why Kevin Moore lives in Thailand...... ?? As long as the curtains are closed I do not care...............

Another local resident

I too am a female resident of Shrewsbury in my early 30's, one of the reasons I moved to Shrewsbury was becasue it didnt have places like this. Cant we leave them to citys like Birmingham? Are we really that in need of a strip joint - there are some in Telford arent there?! It just drags down the whole area and no matter what people say it does attract a 'certain crowd'. Before any one comments I am not a recluse or out dated I go out reguarly in Shrewsbury to bars and clubs. Nor am I anti girls doing this for a living... I would just prefer it not to be on my doorstep!


Oh No!!!! It's right near 16th century mansion Rowley’s House!!

Amusingly worded statement, that.

Seriously though, I really don't care. I doubt I'd set foot in there either way.

Police it properly and it's no issue.

Lap Dog

“It’s degrading to women. The worst thing is that people might come in from other parts of the West Midlands who might bring in their own problems.”

Lovely bit of snobbery from Mr Kenny. People from the West Midlands are worse than the act of degrading women? What fuzzy logic.

I'm sure this story will make for some very entertaining reading as it unfolds.

Kat de Gama

I'm 50 but don't look it. I have the best house on Wyle Cop. Anything to keep the bailiffs at bay:))

Old Salopian

Bragging aside, how much do you charge...?

Old Salopian

They should open one in the station; the proposed lighting scheme is highly appropriate.


The proposal for lapdancing and private booth dancing is just what this town needs. Many a sunday following morning church I have been short of something to do so the opportunity to go there and enjoy the dancers is very appealing. It beats going back home to my wife and children and having to wash up the dishes - to be able to go out until late on would be a great benefit to me and I hope it gets permission. Hopefully if this is a success the town can start to introduce more of these types of venues - I would love there to be a dungeon bar under montgomery's towers - or maybe the aptly named The Hole in the Wall would consider something.


Will there be a ladies night? Any male dancers doing private dancing or is it just women only?

Rex Enduction

People from the West Midlands? Good grief! Perhaps some sort of wall can be built somewhere near Telford to keep these awful rascals out.

Harriet hayley hanson

I do hope Mr Kenney gets to read this , my organisation and myself are big followers of his and we have been following this matter since it first came to our attention in summer 2012, as older longstanding residents of shrewsbury at first we were sceptical of this plan but having taken the opportunity to speak to Mr Bywater on numerous occasions we quickly realised that his expertise in the late night venue market was second to non and he has spent over 25 years in the trade, he is highly respected by the authority's .

He explained to us how how the issue is better dealt with head on rather than being swept under the carpet and he would rather it done one night per week than having a full time lap dancing bar in our town, .

Over the last 6 months there has been no issues and it has a slow trickle of trade which the police and licensing officers are backing, I believe there are two arguments against this one of which it is near to the 6 th form college, the college is open throughout the day and will not be affected by a late night venue which is of course open at night! The second is the issue of people from the west midland being drawn in, I am not sure what problem they would cause, but I do find it laughable, when the buttermarket and its X factor delights draw in clouds from far further afield to our town with no negative impact.

People from the West Midlands , Chester ect already have 50+ venues of this kind or worse every night of the week so they would not need to come to Shrewsbury to view it.

I do hope Mr Kenney can see by the previous comments on this page that the general consensus of the people is that this really is not a big problem and I do hope he is able to support our view as we have supported him.

local resident #2

Of course you and your organisation are big followers of Mr Kenny and that you now think the lap dancing club is a great idea.

I am about as convinced by your post as I am by the assertion that lap dancing isn't degrading to women.

I wouldn't want my daughters walking past an establishment like this at the end of an evening out as the inadequate, sexually pumped up blokes leave Mr Bywater's new venture.

And I don't know anybody who thinks this is a good idea or that it's OK to "buy women like you would a pint"

I wonder if this message board is being used as a desperate attempt by Mr Bywater, his alter-egos and his mates to convince us that this idea is socially acceptable in Shrewsbury. It isn't, nor anywhere else for that matter.

Shrewsbury girl

Harriet hayley hanson,

I'm sorry, but I'm a little sceptical about your post. Are people really supposed to believe that you are an older, longstanding, libdem voting resident of Shrewsbury, representing an unnamed 'organisation' who just happens to have spent the last few months doing lots of research into lapdancing clubs and being won over by the arguments of the lovely Mr Bywater, and who now wish to share their wisdom with us, claiming to represent the 'consensus of the people'? Hmmmm.

It's funny that a few years ago a lapdancing club tried to get a license on Castle Gates but was turned down by councillors, partly because so many people were opposed to it. Maybe things have changed since then, but I doubt it, and a few comments on the messageboards like yours aren't really evidence to prove otherwise.

The Original Jake

"The worst thing is that people might come in from other parts of the West Midlands who might bring in their own problems."

That single statement destroys any shred of credibility that Cllr Kenny's argument may have had. In very few words it reveals his true sentiments: that 'riff-raff' are not welcome in (what he perceives to be) lovely, idyllic middle class Shrewsbury.

Local girl

The Original Jake,

You're right, the comment about about people from the West Midlands is stupid, but one chumpish comment from one councillor is just that- one chumpish comment. It doesn't magically turn a shoddy idea into a good one, nor does it undermine all of the legitimate arguments against the lapdancing club.

Katharine Lewis

When I read this article, I was sure that when I scrolled down to the comments there would be echoes of indignation, protest and horror. I am saddened that Shropshire Star readers think this is a laughable issue and I am tired by the small minded guesswork rhetoric about women and lap dancing. Let's get this straight; lap dancing normalises the sexual objectification of women, and this objectification will not end when punters leave Source Bar. It is a social issue and says that it is acceptable to pay for sexual acts and that women's bodies are a commodity. This is wrong. No one should be able to buy a woman, the same way they buy a pint. It also create a no go area for women, in way that these nights will predominately attract male customers and many women will feel uncomfortable attending that venue; that's right its the 21st century and we are continuing to create spaces that exclude women. Many towns have reported that sexual assaults increase in the surrounding area around a lap dancing venues; this is not unfounded. Although most men will innocently use the club as a fun night out; the combination of titillation but not complete satisfaction and the consumption of alcohol could have very damaging consequences and makes women in the surrounding area very vulnerable to sexual harassment and possibly sexual assault. Unfortunately our council cannot object to the application on social/moral grounds, so the argument will have to be that it is damaging to local businesses and the economy. Theatre Severn and the revamped Buttermarket are working very hard to create a higher quality nightlife in Shrewsbury, and lap dancing belittles and damages this effort. Source Bar is surrounded by small local businesses that will suffer from the reputation of being 'that cafe by the lap dancing place'. And, most horrifying of all, it will literally be on the doorstep of the sixth form college. Are you kidding me? A place trying to promote gender equality, self worth and instil values into our future generations, and we are saying 'Once you're eighteen you just walk a few feet from your place of learning and buy a women to sit in your lap and grind on you.'

Simple Simon

Katharine says "Many towns have reported that sexual assaults increase in the surrounding area around a lap dancing venues; this is not unfounded."

I cited the paper by Dr Magnanti who categorically says this does not happen. I suggest to you that this is an unfounded allegation, would you please provide the evidence for your comments.

May I also suggest that you use paragraphs, to make your arguments clearer, and more structured.

Simple Simon, have a look at the link below if you want an alternative view to Dr Magnanti's on the situation in Camden and what it is really like for the women that work in places like these


Is this Dr Magnanti, the one who funded her phD thesis through prostitution? sometimes known as Belle de Jour?

It's not really an objective view is it?

Local girl

Hi Katharine,

You said all I wanted to better than I could have done. Don't be too saddened by the apparent response of Shropshire Star readers to this story. I'd be very surprised if all of the comments are quite as they seem- they certainly don't represent the views of any of the people I know. A similar proposal was turned down in Shrewsbury a few years ago, and I hope the same will happen again. Despite what many comments here say, this isn't about being a snob or a prude or a busybody, it's about whether it's ok to treat women in a really offensive, outdated, crap way. The answer a few years ago was 'no', and I don't see what has changed to alter that now.

eva land

The comment by Katherine Lewis smacks of the born again christian standpoint.

These are people who want young girls to wear a purity ring.

Miles Kenny is one of the many long standing councillors of this town who rule the roost.

Not satisfied with being paid for spending/wasting our hard earned money they now choose to act as morality leaders.

I am still amazed that prayers are said at council meetings at this council and even more amazed that in that apparently divine few minutes, a large thunderbolt has not struck some of those local members.

Jasper Bergman

eva - I don't understand where you are coming from. I'm not a born again Christian but agree with Katherine Lewis.

There is a huge gulf between wanting young women to wear purity rings and thinking it OK for them to gyrate on a dirty old git's lap.

And, incidentally, most women who work in lap dancing clubs and similar are forced to through poverty and having to pay their bills and are forced to do stuff that they don't want to in order to keep their jobs.

Not wanting poor women to be forced into this kind of thing isn't born again christianity, it is wanting a better life for young women - if Mr Bywater has money to invest, why doesn't he find an outlet where women can work with dignity.

Desperate Dan

oh hoorah, at last a replacement for the red lighted establishment in Frankwell where I will be able to get my dirty hands on some young filly

joking aside, we have a clear example here in our lovely town of a sexual establishment bringing with it horrific crimes (2 women murdered in cold blood).....can anyone really claim there is no link between such places and violence against women?


i am already shocked by the lack of respect shown to women in this town,having for many years suffered verbal abuse from male passers by, a lap dancing club will hardly reverse the already archaic mentality that seems to predominate here.i wonder what some of the male writers here would think if the roles were reversed and it was a club where women went to appraise and leer at male flesh,or if their wives or daughters were performing at one of these sleazy,vulger places.

eva land

To put the record straight I don't personally wish to ever visit such a club nor would I want my daughter to pay her rent in such a way but neither would I want her to steal or to ever perform the common middleclass offence which is to commit fraud.

There are people who choose to do these things and there are those who read papers with topless women in, so in the real world there is a market.

I wouldn't be so niave as to believe that Shrewsbury wouldn't have such a market potential so the comments by Miles Kenny are an unfortunate discrimination of how he perceives other people who live in the West Midlands.

As the young lady in th Guardian article said that she worked some nights without earning anything then perhaps she was sent by the Jobcentre!

Shropshire Lassie

Shrewsbury needs/wants a lap-dancing club as much as I need a hole in the head.

This was tried once before by The Eden Club (used to be by Shrewsbury station).

It was such a dismal failure that the owners resorted to buying advertising space to declare that naked women were not present in their club......!!!!!!! It was a stupid plan and the people of Shrewsbury and its hinterland stayed away because they it wasn't for them.

So why is Mr Bywater putting this forward now - what has changed in the few years since the Eden Club's business suicide?

Nothing apart from the fact that people have even less money to spend on evening entertainment and that seedy joints selling women on middle-england's high streets are last years' bad idea.

To sum up - outdated and gross.

Soapbox John

This could make for an interesting story if you stagger drunk into the wrong establishment looking for some Breast which is finger lickin good... (KFC)

Anyhow, surely this place will be correctly policed and used by both men and women!


Well good luck to the Source Bar in their attempts to introduce this because they are going to need it. Can't say I'm suprised because councillors are hardly going to say that they welcome it.

However I don't see why it would damage the image of the town. It's one venue on one night, hardly Soho. Name one town in the county where people have been put off visiting a town because of a lap dancing club? Also with regard to being degrading to women maybe there is a point there but what about the top shelf magazines in the newsagents and the places that offer much more than a lap dance? Seems to me that as long as it's hidden away there's no problem.