Thursday, 19 August 2010

Please don't open hooters

I've written to the council to object to Hooters opening in Bristol. The licensing committee sits on 1st September so all late representations need to be in by then.

This whole issue is making me depressed.

Feel free to copy and paste my letter as you wish:

I am writing to you to lodge my objection to the proposed opening of a Hooters restaurant in Bristol City Centre. I understand that the licensing committee is sitting on the 1st September and I hope you will take my late representation in to account.

My first objection rests on the impact on the environment surrounding Hooters.

It is well documented that where sex entertainment venues open, women moving around in the surrounding environment suffer from increased levels of sexual harassment and violence. I understand that Hooters is not an SEV, however it does make its money through presenting women as sex objects for entertainment. This would, therefore, have a similar impact on women in the area surrounding the proposed Hooters site. It is not acceptable for a business to open that would make women feel unsafe in city centre spaces, because they would be at risk of, or fear verbal and even physical harassment. Hooters encourages its customers to indulge in sexual innuendo and asks their waitresses to play along. We need to ask how can we know whether this 'innuendo' will spill out of the restaurant and result in customers harassing women passers by in ways the women may perceive as threatening.

Many women would not feel comfortable walking past an establishment that so clearly treats women as little more than sex objects. They may find the atmosphere around the restaurant hostile, or even threatening. It is not acceptable that women should feel excluded from public spaces that are, after all, for all members of the public.

My second objection is to the blatant disregard to equalities law that Hooters has. I would like to know whether the equalities team have been consulted in order to assess the impact on women and minority groups in the city? Hooters refuses to employ male waiting staff, and would also discriminate against trans people, women who choose to wear religious dress, older women and women with physical disabilities. It is simply not acceptable that a business should be permitted to so blatantly ignore anti-discrimination practise enshrined in UK law when hiring waiting staff. These laws are in place to ensure that everyone has equal opportunities to get work. It is for this reason, for example, that you are not asked your age when applying for a job. A company's brand values should not be allowed to trump equality law and it is clearly unacceptable to have an employment policy that so clearly discriminates against so many groups of people.

Finally I would like the licensing committee to ask the Hooters' representatives how they plan to deal with any incidents of inappropriate touching of waitressing staff. The correct way for a business to deal with inappropriate touching of an employee is to report the offender and incident to the police. Please note that ejecting the offender from the establishment is not appropriate action.

I understand that licensing applications do not take moral objections. Therefore all my objections are based on environmental impact and legal ramifications of Hooters opening in Bristol.

Thank you

Yours sincerely,
Sian Norris

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