“Some quiet backwater”
Posted on December 10, 2009
I was struck by Micky D’s comment on here a few weeks ago where he explained how he’d always thought of Norwich as “some quiet backwater.” Because it’s really not you know: like any major city, it has its fair share of problems.
This for instance is Prince of Wales Road, a road I regularly have to walk down as it leads from my bus stop to the train station:
Yeah okay, I know what you’re thinking: “What in earth is she going on about, it looks dead quiet there. Cath’s obviously lived out in the sticks too long if she thinks there’s anything wrong with that street!”
Just bear with me.
I took that photo during the daytime. At night, Prince of Wales Road is an entirely different beast: and not a very nice one at that. In fact it’s a road that I, along with many other women I know, refuse to walk along after dark. And as it’s the only route back to my bus stop from the train station, and as I take trains a lot, it’s the main reason I end up forking out so much for taxis all the sodding time.
Because Prince of Wales Road is clubland. Or as the good burghers of Norwich would probably prefer me to say: Prince of Wales Road is the hub of Norwich’s night-time economy.
According to this report (starts at 2 mins 15 seconds in) up to 19,000 people can be found on Prince of Wales Road on a Saturday night, and I’d estimate that the numbers aren’t that much smaller on a Thursday or a Friday night either. This year alone 2 men have died following violent altercations outside the road’s nightclubs, and numerous other people have been assaulted.
Now you’d think that with all the trouble and violence Prince of Wales Road attracts, the Norwich authorities would be trying to find ways to make the place safer wouldn’t you?
Well you’d be wrong.
Safety doesn’t even come into it when money’s concerned. Especially women’s safety.
Earlier this year, Steve Peri of the Peri Leisure business empire which owns Mercy Nightclub on Prince of Wales Road (the biggest nightclub in East Anglia), submitted a planning application to convert the old games arcade opposite his club into a bar. Now someone who was on the ball (not me I’m ashamed to say) spotted this, and submitted a complaint about the adult nature of the proposed establishment to the council. So on the 14th May the City Council’s Planning Applications Committee met to discuss Peri’s change of use application, and this is what was said:
“An objection was raised on the ground of the nature of the use of the bar. Some confusion arose from the licensing application which contains a section for adult entertainment/lap dancing venue. The applicant, as with other premises under his ownership, has sought a full license. This includes the provision of adult entertainment. The applicant has confirmed verbally that there is no expectation at present that this will be implemented. In any case, a lap dancing venue would be a Sui Generis use and as such a further application for change of use would be required, unless it is ancillary to the main use as a bar/nightclub. The applicant has also confirmed that the same license applies to other premises under his ownership but again, this part of the licence has not been implemented.”
Sounds fair enough doesn’t it? The complainant and members of the committee just got themselves a bit confused over Peri’s application for a full license. But ultimately Peri was able to reassure everyone that his application for a full license was pretty meaningless and not likely to lead to anything, by pointing out that his other premises were also fully licensed and they’d never been used for lap dancing or any other so-called adult entertainment activities…..
And so the license was granted.
Here’s Peri Entertainment’s latest investment then, which opened on Prince of Wales Road, opposite Mercy Nightclub, last month:
Looks okay doesn’t it?
Here’s the downstairs bar: Pulse
And here’s the upstairs bar: Lace
Ermm, hang on. What’s that on the windows?
Yep. Steve Peri has done exactly what he implied to the council he wouldn’t be doing, and has opened Norwich’s third lap-dancing club. Sorry, I mean “Gentleman’s Club” obviously.
Toby Middleton, Peri Leisure’s operations manager claims that: “A gentleman’s club is a form of entertainment and we have not done it for seedy old men to come to, but to boost the night-time economy.”
To reassure us on that score Middleton goes on to explain: “There will be three girls on stage at all times, unisex toilets, the biggest champagne bar in the city, and a dress code.”
Oooh, a dress code. That’ll keep the creeps and the misogynist bastards out then….
He also claims: “We have not done something that is going to be detrimental to people’s quality of life.”
Really? Well try telling that to the women of Norwich Mr Middleton. Women who already feel unsafe on Prince of Wales Road, and who will now have to walk past your sleazy establishment and be reminded of exactly what you and Steve Peri think of women every time they glance up at those atrocious fucking windows.
Still, at least the local citizen’s forum has come out in opposition to the club, and to the increased sexualisation of women and girls.
Arghh, who am I trying to kid?
Julian Foster, chairman of the Central Norwich Citizen’s Forum, welcomed the new initiative.
He said: “I don’t think Norwich needs a limit put on the number of bars it has in the city centre.
“Prince of Wales Road is the designated entertainment centre of the city and always has been, and a variety of venues attracts different clientele and is healthy competition.
“We have long experience of the way Steve works and runs his venues, and I welcome this initiative.”
I think it might be time to set up something like a Norwich Feminist Network, or a Norwich Object group….
Cath, what is it you need that would you to walk along this road at night?
That should read ‘would ENABLE you to walk along…’
I have a serious problem with missing out words at the mo!
Well I do walk about the centre of Manchester at night, but it is scary sometimes.
There’s a home office report
Click to access r214.pdf
On violence in the night time economy which points out it is usually the result of males getting drunk (maybe someone should start a campaign about that, the home office for instance). So is it really a good idea to have venues that are largely going to attract males?
I walk about my city at night but I do find it frightening, especially walking through ‘clubland’ which is chock full of lap dancing clubs. You always get hassle. It’s easier to go through the back streets, but that doesn’t feel exactly safe, either. We now have sort of ‘guides’ on the main drag who are supposed to keep an eye out and make sure nothing gets out of hand, which would be more reassuring if they weren’t all men and didn’t all look like bouncers.
earwicga – not sure to be honest if there’s anything that would enable me to walk along that street at night. Although thebeardedlady’s comment about some sort of guide has got me thinking..
But the taxi thing looks set to continue, ‘cos even if I could get to my bus-stop, in a genius step to make going out at night even more attractive to women my council is now proposing to turn off all street lights in residential areas to save some money. Which means the walk from the end-of-journey bus-stop back to my house would have to be done in complete bloody darkness.
Maybe it’s time I started thinking seriously about learning to drive.
my council is now proposing to turn off all street lights in residential areas to save some money.
I have also about heard this frankly fuckwitted idea elsewhere, which when I heard it was dressed up as saving the planet. (no seriously, just kill Bono, Sting and Trudie Styler, then we’d be saved all those tonnes of CO2 emitted by all that air travelling they do).
When i think of Norwich ..i think Alan Partridge ..Delia Smith …. soz ! I agree lots of places have similar alcohol/violence problems (try a night out in the Bigg Market ! )if im in town , at night and im drinking ..i use taxis …have to be on your toes sometimes at the taxi rank though , people like to fight anywhere , not just the blokes either…
Safety first ..carbon emissions can fcuk off …. its taxis oclock ! Mit street lighting , and any other carbon intensive measure you can think of : ) Greens …just willing everyone back to the 18th century …
Learn to drive .. automatic is easy …n Fiat 500 s are well cute : )
(Wow, today is the day my laptop lets me load comments! Won’t last though!)
I can’t think of anything that would enable me to be out and about alone at night except for the car and taxis, which is why I asked. I’m probably more likely to be involved in a car crash than be attacked, but that knowledge doesn’t affect how I feel at all.
“So is it really a good idea to have venues that are largely going to attract males?”
Would you rather mingle with these people in mixed venues ?
Perhaps we could lobby the Gov to simply ban males from going out on weekends, constructing holding pens in which to place them for the duration.
Cath you really need to lighten up a bit, Prince of Wales road is usually heavily manned by police and doorstaff all the way down so when trouble erupts its usually over in seconds
I take it you have been into this club and seen for yourself that it is some kind of sleazy cesspit that you are making your comments or are you just making assumptions with no knowledge whatsoever???? I know of many people who have tried to go into this Lace Club and been turned away for many different reasons and then walked into the city to PLATINUM LACE and walked straight in. That shows that they are a little more choosy about who they want in this establishment.
Mind you at the end of the day Cath there is no need at all to walk down this street anyway as if my memory serves me correctly there is a road running parrallel to it with virtually no one on it so it seem to me that you dont have to walk down the filty street you depict here you are just on here moaning for the sake of it!!
What was written about the Prince of Wales road is totally true. I live there and its a hell hole.
The council and police dont give a toss about residents. The Residents Groups just support the pub and club owners.
We residents just get to lock ourselves away by 7.30pm and have the delight of our homes being used as public urinals or sex stops.
Did you know there is just one proper toilet to cater for the 19k of boozers that go there? Its a disgrace.
Some poor chap did a petition about it but the council, police etc. ignored him.
Folks say ‘well you chose to live there’ but the fact is a lot of us were here long before it became niteclub central. The place is turning into a drunk, druggie slum.
So a big thank you to the council/police/residents groups/licensee groups etc. that dont give a toss other than the cash rolling in.
My wife and I live just off of Prince of Wales Road, and have lived in Norwich all of our lives. We moved back in to the city centre two years ago after our last child left home, and we are now in our early 40’s – so not your typical “clubbing” types.
We enjoy the local area and all the facilities offerred, in fact, we go out each and every night and rarely eat at home. Sure, at weekends it’s loud, it’s busy, and you should expect people bumping into you anytime after 10.00pm, as some are a little unsteady on their feet.
But lighten up. We’ve all got to go somewhere to have some fun and Prince of Wales Road is the best place to let your hair down. There are plenty of alternative routes from the city to the bus station that are deserted at night, but personally, having walked home with my wife last night at 1.15am on a Saturday, I feel much safer with the overwhelming Police presence, mobile CCTV vans, SOS Bus’s and security staff down every square foot of Prince of Wales Road.
In fact I’ve only ever had one slightly dodgy run in with a guy once I LEFT the safety of Prince of Wales Road and there was nobody else around.
The truth is, in the years we’ve lived here I have not experienced or witnessed anything terrible. The guys get a little aggresive at times, but that’s the same anywhere. The difference here is that they are safely evacuated from the area by the SOS team – not arrested and thrown in the back of a riot van.
Of the two gentlemen that died last year on Prince of Wales Road, one collapsed in a stair well in a local nightclub, and the other was pushed and fell (through the effects of drink) and hit his head on a curb. Both very upsetting incidents, but hardly the brawling mecca it’s made out to be.
But like I said, lighten up. We live here, and we love it.
Very interesting. I am nearby resident & quite agree. We have 2 young children. Some women friends do not like to visit us at night. Behaviour unbelievable as hours move on. Discovered MERCY run hot tubs with bikini girls that disrobe & dance afterwards? Also a bar called Sugar & Spice offers lap dancing to teenagers. Norwich going too far. Glad some of above glad to pay for extra arsenal requisite for “night economy”. Makes me wonder how we ever had fun before. Looking into this issue now.
Its terrible. We live just off PoW road and one night this summer I sat and counted how many blokes and girls ran down St Faiths Lane into Stuart Gardens behind Kwik-Fit for a pee.
From 12pm till 2am I counted over 40 individuals using where we live as a toilet. One or two, ok its the city centre, it happens. But 40?? Thats one every 3 minutes.
I let the police and the council know and the council said it was acceptable and wasnt concerned at all. The Police said they took this very seriously but the next night we saw a chap walk past officers and have a pee in our carpark, they didnt even stop him. Suffice to say I lodged a complaint.
The whole night time ecomomy is corrupt from top to bottom.
“like any major city, it has its fair share of problems.”
Yes, and like any major city it has lapdancing clubs and nightclubs. I happen to despise POW road myself, as a male, and have for some time. But your point is mute, as per a comment above, there are other ways to go. Would you feel any safer walking along king street at night?
If there are 19000 people descending on POW at the weekends then the demand is there for such an area in the city, who would you be to impose your own ideals on the Norwich community? I drink on Tombland, The Lanes, and around the general City Centre area. Personally I full support the concentration of lager lout establishments into a single area of the city in order to keep them away from my favoured areas of the city.
Live and let be, nobody needs to be preached at. I was on POW last night actually, the only fight I saw involved women, and there must have been at least 30 police officers down that street.
I’m Born and raised in Norwich and study at uni in London. Things are a lot worse here, you think norwich is bad? try bethnal green on a Saturday. Every time I’m out POW is lined with police, sos bus helpers out an about (legends), pulse at least is a first floor establishment/upstairs out of view and the majority of trouble I see is between drunk girls coming out of clubs. Its not just men that cause trouble on weekends.
regarding to pulse have you ever been in a gentleman’s club? probably not, so to be fair you can’t give a fair comment on what goes on – This is 2011 not 1970 like you make it sound too, the dancers are respected by customers. There’s strict do’s and don’ts and customers nowadays are well aware of this, maybe unlike what they used to be.
They know what’s involved in the job when they apply, no one is pushing them into it and its not illegal in this country. You should be thankful that Norwich is one of the nicer parts of the country, fair enough we have our share of problems on Prince of Wales road, but compared to London and the midlands, things could be a LOT worse