Pubs and clubs hosting monthly lap dancing evenings will be exempt from new legislation aimed at tackling the spread of strip clubs, it has emerged.

Councillor Gill Mitchell, leader of the Labour group on Brighton and Hove City Council, has warned that venues could exploit the loophole to compensate for a drop in alcohol sales during the economic downturn.

While she welcomed measures under the Policing and Crime Bill to reclassify lap dancing clubs as sex encounter venues, giving councillors more freedom to turn down licence applications, she said there were still “problems” with the plans.

The Government’s move to crackdown on strip joints comes after The Argus revealed how councils had been left virtually powerless to prevent the venues opening under the 24-hour drinking legislation introduced in November 2005.

Three fully naked lap dancing clubs now operate in Brighton - The Pussycat Club in Grand Parade, Grace of Brighton in North Street, and Spearmint Rhino Rouge in East Street.

Councillor Mitchell has written to the city’s three Labour MPs pointing out that the stricter regime could lead to a “postcode lottery” of lap dancing establishments.

She has also pointed out that the Bill, which has passed its second reading in Parliament, would exempt premises that hosted lap and pole dance nights once a month or less frequently.

Coun Mitchell has asked the MPs to lobby the Home Secretary to ensure that this “loophole” for clubs holding occasional nights was closed and that the reforms were made mandatory for all local councils.

She said: “Having got this far it is vital to get the new legislation right. I am concerned that unless all venues are covered by the new legislation, we could see a spread of monthly lap and pole dancing events as alcohol sales fall during the recession.

“All venues holding such events should be covered by the new legislation that will mean local councils are better able to regulate them.

“Also, the legislation should be mandatory to avoid the creation of a postcode lottery where some communities would have more control over lap dancing clubs in their areas than others where councils do not take up the new powers.”

A Home Office spokesman defended the Bill and said: “The new powers are not mandatory for local authorities as not all areas have a problem with lap dancing establishments, but will be available where local authorise believe they are necessary.”

Venues holding “one-off or infrequent” nude entertainment were being exempted to prevent the provisions from having a “disproportionate impact” on nightlife, he added.

The pressure to change the law was prompted by a significant increase in lap dancing clubs across the country following the introduction of the Licensing Act 2003, which treated venues in the same way as pubs and restaurants for the first time.