Council health inspectors to ‘closely follow’ Hull sex festival
A swinger event taking place in Hull this weekend will be monitored by public health inspectors, Hull city council said.
But a number of people within the city’s swingers community have reached out to Hull Live to voice concerns about the sex festival. Read more.
The annual two-day Swing Fest event will be held at the HU9 club in East Hull over the statutory weekend, which has raised concerns from the public.
The decision to host the event has “divided opinion” within the swinging community, with some opposing the idea that it should continue during the coronavirus pandemic.
HU9 club owner and organizer Rob Smith said he worked with Hull City Council and put the necessary social distancing measures in place.
A local swinger reached out to the council to raise concerns and included Hull Live in the correspondence.
But the board says it has worked closely with Mr Smith and that officers will be visiting to make sure the rules are followed.
The man, who wishes to remain anonymous, worries not only about the event itself but the wider implications.
In his email to the board’s food, health and safety manager, Rachel Stephenson, he said: “The fabswingers forums have made it clear that the groups are having parties at accommodation and hotels. around Hull, a flagrant violation of state and local guidelines.
“Ticket sales generated a significant ‘sell-out’ percentage, overriding club tracking and tracing methods, again a blatant violation of national guidelines.”
He also claims people are coming from high-risk areas with local closures in place.
He said: “Dozens of people are traveling from high risk areas who by attending are breaking their local rules as they are not allowed to socialize with people outside their homes in closed places.
“You are aware of this, but you choose to let it unfold under the direction of club owners who clearly put financial gain ahead of the illegal acts these people commit in your city.”
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The man also says the club should be classified as an adult entertainment establishment.
He said, “I would also challenge your (the advice) non-classification of HU9 as an adult entertainment establishment.
“For the pre-festival warm-up night, they’re advertising burlesque dancers / strippers. At the festival, they have strippers again, and a detailed thread details the many lingerie choices guests wear for the weekend.
“I would like to ask how you approve of all of this while forcing pole dance or strip clubs to stay firmly closed right now even though they would offer the same format but to a much smaller and mostly local clientele?”
“As a board, I don’t know how it differs so much from the many others in the UK.
“They have almost universally refused to let swingers clubs reopen for now, they are clearly places of adult entertainment and, as national policy suggests, they should remain firmly closed.
“I have full sympathy for HU9 and indeed all of the clubs across the country during these times, but your decision making is taking a huge risk for the many people who could be affected in the region.
“If there is an outbreak of Covid-19, if people are hospitalized or worse die because of the chains of infection that could be created, then this is a direct result of your inability to make the only obvious call for stop this event.
“I am amazed that a department responsible for public safety chooses not to do so.”
But Ms. Stephenson defended the board’s position.
She said: “The council worked with the event organizers to develop their plans and ensure they are in compliance with the up-to-date restrictions imposed by Covid-19.
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“Additional public protection powers granted to councils to support coronavirus control have been used to serve as a directive specifying detailed event restrictions that must be observed.
“The organizers have worked with us on this point and we are satisfied that they understand the importance of respecting this legally binding document. Agents will monitor the event.
Ms Stephenson expanded on the board’s position in a response to the man’s email.
She said: “The event scheduled to take place on weekends at HU9 does not include the normal swing activities associated with this club.
“This event does not need environmental health approval per se, nor planning approval.
“The owners have informed council of their intention to hold a temporary event at the premises, as required by law.”
Miss Stephenson admits that HU9’s initial claims were inaccurate.
She said: “Although there have been media messages that mislead HU9 in relation to their normal activities, they have now been rectified.
“When it comes to hotels, it is not possible for a local authority to monitor every ticket sale and be closely involved with who books hotels and who might be invited to come back to whose room after an event .
“It is the personal responsibility to follow the advice of the government on these matters and to obey local lockdown rules.
“The comments you make are understandable concerns and we share them as advice. “
HU9 owner Rob Smith declined to speak to Hull Live, but told Burnsy on Radio Humberside this week what measures were in place to keep the event safe.
In the interview, he describes the sexual activity as “play”. He said: “There are small festivals happening across the country.
“Normally people can play but this year is very different. We worked with the Hull municipal council and the health and safety team.
“We have implemented tracking and traceability, social distancing and stewards. There is no game on the premises and all game rooms are closed.
“The bouncy castle has been removed because we cannot guarantee social distancing.
“In any swingers lifestyle, 80 to 90% are social and sex is a plus. Everyone will be seated and there will be table service.