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Salford Hooters restaurant plans blasted as ‘regressive’ by city mayor Paul Dennett

The US chain, famous for employing scantily-clad waitresses, wants to open a branch in Salford Quays.

Plans for a Hooters restaurant in Salford have been branded ‘regressive’ by the city’s mayor.

Paul Dennett plus Greater Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham have both opposed the application from the American restaurant chain.

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It comes after they were sent an open letter from a number of campaigners urging them to refuse it.

The GM mayor’s team did not want to provide any comment on the matter as a decision is yet to be made by the licensing team. However, Mr Dennett expressed his serious concern.

Salford mayor Paul Dennett Credit: Salford Council

“Hooters has applied to Salford City Council to open a premises in Salford,” he said. 

“The location and nature of the business cause me serious concern. I therefore totally appreciate the negative reaction from the community.

“The nature of the business jars with the Greater Manchester Combined Authority’s gender-based violence strategy, reinforcing archaic and unwelcome attitudes towards women. Greater Manchester is home to 1.4million women and girls and we will continue to champion progress towards gender equality. 

“Hooters would be a regressive step for Salford and Greater Manchester. 

“In Salford we have just launched a vision for Salford Quays in 2030 and a key strand of this is that the Quays is a place that welcomes everyone, a place that puts people at the centre of how it is perceived and operates in practice. A Hooters bar does not fit in with this vision.

“Legally and constitutionally issues of licensing are not matters for myself or the Mayoral Team more broadly as they sit with the Licensing Panel (Premises), which is a non-executive function of Salford City Council, which I’m legally restricted from sitting on. Members of the public have been invited to make representations with regards to the licence application received from Hooters, the closing date for representations was May 3, 2022 and the next steps will be to table the application and representations received for the Licensing Panel (Premises) for consideration, whilst also sharing the representations received with Hooters themselves.”   

The US chain, famous for employing scantily-clad waitresses and called out as “sexist, misogynistic and degrading”, has applied to open a branch in Salford Quays. Salford City Council has confirmed that the representations made in relation to the application have been received and a hearing will be held for campaigners to express their viewpoints.

Hooters wants to open in Salford

Men at Work, Men Against Violence Campaign, and Male Allies Challenging Sexism are just some of the campaigners opposing this who sent the open letter to the two mayors.

Michael Conroy, of Men At Work, said: “I have spent years working with teenage lads around sexism and respectful behaviour and what it means to be a man. We have an obligation to speak out when things like this come up.

“This place makes the girls that work there seem like they are part of the menu. This is something that has no place in 2022.

“It seems like something from the 1970s, a real throwback to an era we thought had gone.

“For a city council to consider giving a licence to a place like that sends a message of support for it. Hooters is just not okay.”

Mr Conroy explained that this was not an objection to the women that would choose to work there, but the US chain that chooses to impose these work obligations on them. In a country hit by the cost of living crisis, he explained that as prices go up, our choice in what we do to put food on the table reduces.

Womanchester, a women’s rights organisation from Manchester and Salford, believe approving this restaurant would be in direct opposition to the Greater Manchester Combined Authority’s commitment to end sexist harassment and abuse.

“Hooters is a sexist restaurant, which uses the objectification of women as its selling point, from its name, to the uniform, to the way it treats the female staff,” a Womanchester spokeswoman said.

“It is an outdated brand, viewing women as objects to sell food and drink is no longer acceptable in 2022.

“Since #MeToo and the campaigns against casual misogyny and sexism, we have moved past the days when this was considered acceptable. Woman’s Place UK quite rightly asks why would any city want to associate themselves with the outdated image of skimpily clad, objectified women serving a mostly male customer base.

“Openly sexist in its policies, this is not an acceptable working condition for the waitresses.

“If Andy Burnham is serious about his campaign ‘#IsThisOK’ to challenge the underlying attitudes that lead to the assault of women, then refusing Hooters would be a very basic task. It is frustrating that we are still having to make the same arguments over and over again.”

Hooters have been contacted for comment in response to the allegations of sexism put forward by objectors, but has not responded to the Local Democracy Reporting Service.