Green councillor Christopher Hawtree introduced a stripper to the most recent meeting of the planning committee.
Moments later his colleagues agreed to grant permission for a new tattoo parlour in St James’s Street, Brighton.
Councillor Hawtree quoted part of the lyrics to “Little Egypt”, a song about a stripper written by Jerry Leiber and performed by The Coasters.
Councillor Hawtree said: “Mercifully for the committee, I did not sing. But, with the right rhythm, Jerry’s words about that stripper came across: ‘She winked at the audience and then she turned around, / She had a picture of a cowboy tattooed on her spine, / Saying Phoenix, Arizona, 1949.’”
He was speaking at Hove Town Hall in favour of an application by James Robinson Tattoos to operate from the basement of a shop next to the Saint James pub.
A similar application further up St James’s Street was approved two years ago.
Councillor Hawtree told his colleagues on Brighton and Hove City Council Planning Committee: “Tattoos used to be a case of sailors with ‘mother’ etched on their arm. Now it’s one of mothers with sailors on theirs.”
He also noted that there were more than 100 tattoo and piercing studios in Brighton and Hove – mostly in Brighton– and that it had become a middle class thing.
A report by planning officer Chris Swain was rather more prosaic. It said: “The proposed use of the basement level as a tattoo studio is considered acceptable within the town centre environment and is not considered to result in any significant adverse impact upon neighbour amenity.
“The proposed use would increase the vitality of the shopping area and attract additional visitors to the wider Brighton area.”
A petition signed by 107 people objected to the application while 320 people wrote letters of support.
Chris Swain’s report said: “A petition has been received that has raised concerns that the proposal would result in a saturation of tattoo studios within the Brighton area.
“While these concerns have been noted, they are not material planning considerations for the assessment of this application.”
The 12 members of the planning committee voted unanimously to give James Robinson Tattoos permission to use the basement.
The opening hours are restricted to 8am to 8pm Monday to Saturday and 11am to 5pm on Sundays.
Councillor Hawtree wrote later on his blog: “I had, however, noted a similar lyric, by Yip Harburg, set to music by Harold Arlen, and sung by Groucho in The Marx Brothers’ At The Circus, ‘Lydia, the Tattooed Lady’, whose body in this priceless internal rhyme – ‘Lydia, oh, Lydia, that encyclopaedia’ – depicts much world history: ‘You can learn a lot from Lydia.’
“It might have been a case for the Standards Board, however, had I broached the immortal last verse: Lydia ‘once swept an Admiral clean off his feet, / The ships on her hips made his heart skip a beat / And now the old boy’s in command of the fleet, / For he went and married Lydia’.
“As, similarly, does the narrator of ‘Little Egypt’.
“One of the unexpected turns to this public life, for somebody who had been used to sitting at a desk, is that strange, thrilling rush which comes of people laughter at something there and then.
“The key point, hard to explain, is that one does not simply cook up gags per se. You cannot do it to order, but somehow they form part of an attempt to present a serious point of view.”