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Concerns raised about loss of LGBT+ venues in Southwark

Bridie Witton, Local Democracy Reporter

Concerns for Southwark's LGBT+ spaces have been raised, with the number of LGBT+ venues in the borough declining and under threat from new development.

Lib Dem Cllr Victor Chamberlain (Borough & Bankside) questioned what Southwark Council was doing to ensure there were LGBT+ spaces at Monday night's overview and scrutiny committee meeting.

This comes as "valued" gay nightclub XXL is under threat, he said.

XXL operates from the Pulse club in railway arches near Blackfriars Bridge which are going to be redeveloped along with the adjacent Ludgate House and Sampson House sites.

"Specifically thinking about safe spaces for LGBT people to come together, we know the nightlife is one area where that actually happens in a big way," he explained.

"Southwark since 2006 has seen a 67 per cent drop in LGBT spaces according to the Mayor of London.

"We know that they are under threat across London," he said.

The 67 per cent drop relates to two venues, but this is "significant", according to the Mayor of London report, given the "important community and neighbourhood functions of LGBTQ+ venues".

Deputy leader and cabinet member for equalities, Cllr Rebecca Lury, said the council had no control over private developments which host LGBT+ nightlife.

"But culture is really important to us and it's something I can take away and look at and see where it sits and how we can do more to promote the space and work with any developments which come forward, or new cultural opportunities to make sure we factor it in," she said.

Committee chair Cllr Bill Williams also asked Cllr Lury to look into what the council was doing to help LGBT+ spaces and events stay within the borough.

"A follow-up to that is what are our links into those clubs, pubs and the promoters of those spaces and how much work are we doing to enable them to stay within the borough if they have to relocate because of regen."

Cllr Lury said she would look into specific events or areas under threat to "make sure we are intervening".

This article was amended on 3 July 2019. An earlier version said that Cllr Lury had agreed to an equalities impact assessment on the possible closure of XXL. As the video of the meeting demonstrates, she told the committee that she would look into the matter but did not make a specific commitment.

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