A FORMER club dancer has spoken out after a research council handed out nearly £120,000 for a university to look into their impact on communities.

The Swindon-based Economic and Social Research Council, which draws much of its funding from the Government, has backed a proposal to study the effects lap-dancing clubs have on the surrounding areas.

The research, which will be carried by the University of Kent, will be the first to evidence how the sexualisation of nightlife may be affecting certain social groups.

The study will not look into what goes on in the clubs and will be aimed more at helping local authority licensing officers community safety groups make decisions on the suitability of the clubs.

But former dancer Christine Gregory, who now runs pole fitness business Polefect, said the real issue is the sexualisation of children and mistreatment of girls who work in the clubs.

“I think it’s a lot of money to spend on the research that perhaps could be better spent on educating youngsters,” Christine, 33, who worked for a Swindon club for six months in 2006, said.

“It is a real issue and I can only speak from my experience but there was bullying from the management and pressure to change things about my body.

“Since I set up my business I have tried to help I don’t know how many girls and some don’t believe me.

“What’s happening at the moment they are picking up girls after a night out and getting them to work in the clubs.

“I think our children are being manipulated, particularly by music these days, into thinking this sort of thing is okay.”

The study will explore the impact of lap-dancing clubs in several cities, which are yet to be decided, and the project estimates there are 300 across the country, of which Swindon has two.

Professor Phil Hubbard, and Dr Rachela Colosi, of the University of Lincoln, will be working on the year-long project, which is being funded by a £117,839 grant from the ESRC.

Professor Hubbard, who has previously researched the regulation of prostitution and sex work, said: “Clubs offering sexual entertainment have become increasingly widespread over the last decade.

“This will be the first study of the ways in which the sexualisation of nightlife creates feelings of discomfort among particular social groups.

“While recent changes in licensing laws mean councils finally have the power to respond to local concerns about lap-dancing clubs, there remain many misconceptions about the clientele of such venues and their affect on local communities.

“No one has explored the impact lap-dancing clubs have on the nightlife of British cities and this research will help those responsible for issuing licenses make better informed decisions.”

The Adver approached both Foxies and Dream Lounge for comment, but was unable to contact anyone at the clubs.