The Government has promised to clamp down on lap dancing clubs following a campaign by Brighton and Hove politicians.

Home Secretary Jacqui Smith, addressing the Labour Party conference in Manchester, announced she would make it easier for people to prevent new clubs opening in their communities.

It follows a long campaign led in Parliament by Hove MP Celia Barlow, who has argued that residents have few powers to block licence applications from lap dancing clubs because they are treated in the same way as applications for cafes or ballet schools.

Earlier this year Labour MP Ms Barlow and Brighton and Hove City Councillor Gill Mitchell met Home Office Minister Gerry Sutcliffe and called on him to amend the licensing laws, after which the Government launched a consultation to find out local authorities’ views of the current system.

Today, Ms Smith revealed that ministers had come down on the side of campaigners in agreeing that the law had to be changed.

She told delegates: “We’ll give communities a stronger say in stopping lap-dancing clubs opening in their areas.”

A Government source later confirmed that legislation will be introduced in the next Parliamentary session, which starts in November, with a view to changing the licensing rules by the middle of next year.

It is not yet known whether lap dancing clubs will in future be placed in the same category as sex establishments such as sex shops and adult cinemas, or whether a new category will be created for them. It is also unclear whether existing clubs will be forced to reapply for new licenses when the reforms come into effect.

The Government source told The Argus full details would be determined shortly but stressed the aim of the legislation would be to “make it much more difficult” for new lap dancing clubs to open.

Ms Barlow, who was yesterday thanked for her role in the campaign by Commons leader and Women’s Minister Harriet Harman, said: “I am delighted that the Government is to act decisively to change the law. I have been fighting for this for two years and this change gives local people the right to choose whether they want sex establishments in their community.”