A Hastings lap-dancing club has come under fire for its use of mobile billboards around 1066 Country.
For the last few months adverts for Prospect Place-based Club XS have been parked around the area, with reports of the billboards being seen in Icklesham and Bexhill, as well as Hastings and St Leonards.
Since their appearance, the ads have been criticised by several residents, including members of the Bexhill and Battle Labour Party Women’s Forum.
Women’s officer Anne Ruzylo said: “At this time of year, Bexhill has many tourists coming into the town and inevitably, many of them too will have seen these degrading ads at the side of the road.
“Posters like these not only leave a distinctly nasty taste in the mouth but also bring the entire area into disrepute at a time when we need all the visitors we can get.
"This isn’t just about the rights of one local business to make more money. These posters appear to suggest that women are on sale at a club just down the road from here and that is something that directly affects every person in this country.”
The forum, which is calling for the immediate withdrawal of the advert, says its members have written to the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) to raise complaints about the billboard.
Forum spokesperson Ginny Matthews added: “This is a sleazy and distasteful ad which perpetuates the same old stale and discredited message: that women’s bodies are no more than commodities to be bought and sold for the gratification of men. Apologists for lap-dancing clubs are notoriously keen to portray them as nothing more than good, clean fun but the truth is
that this so-called ‘industry’ has long-established links with prostitution, trafficking and sheer human misery.
“However hard this back street club tries to normalise its activities, Club XS is not a mainstream business for the vast majority of the residents of Bexhill and Hastings and has no place promoting itself alongside everyday health, motoring or retail brands.
"Countless witness accounts have revealed that the realities of life as a lap-dancer are that it is degrading, unpleasant work that very few women would choose to do if they had been offered decent life opportunities.”
In response to the criticism, Club XS managing director Peter Eldridge said: "I see that once again Club XS being disparaged for being nothing more than a perfectly legal business operating in the town with the full consent of the council, which grant us our license each year. A license that has now been renewed for the seventh time without a single objection.
"As one of the most successful businesses in the night time economy we provide gainful employment to six support staff and about twenty dancers each week. I can assure you that all of our self-employed dancers attend the club because they wish to and indeed very much enjoy what they do .
“We are in no way connected to trafficking or prostitution and in fact, if one of our staff even takes a phone number from a customer they are dismissed. We operate under very strict guidelines set by the council’s highly efficient licencing department and are happy to do so.”
"As regards the advertising trailer, it is an ad with a picture of a pretty girl in a bikini and as such is no more offensive than many other ads around, such as the numerous bill board ads for underwear companies who’s pictures are far more suggestive.
“Quite clearly, once again this has been used to take umbrage with the club by someone who is ill informed and has not bothered to research our business but is happy to make all kinds of allegations without first finding out the facts. I would very much like to see the evidence she has that proves that Club XS is linked to any of the accusations she has made.
“In this day and age it is hardly a vulgarity to show a picture of a girl in a bikini on an advert, especially when one considers what is, unfortunately, easily obtainable on the internet.
"Club XS prides itself on being 'just good clean fun' and being run the correct way so as to enhance our business model. As such we are probably the most successful bar business in the town, but we also have the best record for not having many incidents. This is, in part, due to the fact we have more security staff per head of customer than any other bar in town and also the most CCTV cameras."