Council to decide lap dancing club plan

By Liz HearnshawCAMPAIGNERS fighting a plan for a lap dancing club in their town have warned an "open-eyed endorsement" of the proposal would exacerbate problems already rife among party-goers.

By Liz Hearnshaw

CAMPAIGNERS fighting a plan for a lap dancing club in their town have warned an "open-eyed endorsement" of the proposal would exacerbate problems already rife among party-goers.

Residents in Newmarket issued their stark message as Forest Heath District Council prepared to decide an application for the table and lap dancing venue, earmarked for existing nightspot Club M.

If approved, Seamus McConalogue, managing director of Lion Entertainments – which owns the High Street club – plans to hire about 20 girls to dance for 100 customers.

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He said the club would have a separate entrance from the existing premises and would operate strict rules, including entry for over-21s only and a no-touching policy.

But there was been strong opposition to the proposal, with a petition of 200 names objecting to the plan and representations from Newmarket Town Council, the Women's Institute and residents.

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Newmarket town councillor Robin Millar said: "It has been suggested there is no room in this discussion for morals. This is an appalling admission.

"It does not require a lawyer to realise that what is legal is not a reliable guide to what is ethical or moral. Any decision other than rejection of this application must be seen as an open-eyed endorsement of the adult entertainment industry and the problems that are associated with it."

One resident, Professor David Buckingham, who lives in The Avenue, Newmarket, felt the proposal would fuel a growing anti-social behaviour problem caused by current clubbers visiting the town.

"We are already concerned by the activity of the clubs in Newmarket. On club nights there can be problems associated with noise, rowdy behaviour, vandalism, litter, urination in the street and on our property and illegal parking," he said.

"We are of the opinion that approval of Club M's proposal would exacerbate these problems. In addition, we think that such activity would lead to a reputation for seediness that Newmarket needs to avoid."

But Forest Heath District Council's licensing department has been told Lion Entertainments had run a similar club in Luton and there have been "no problems, complaints or cause for concern" in the seven months since it opened.

Inspector Steve Brown, of Newmarket police, said officers worked closely with nightclub staff to deal with incidents before they escalated.

"Violent crime has gone up, there is no question about that. I think there is a direct correlation between this and the number of clubbers coming into the town. All we can try to do is limit the damage," he added.

"It is important that we work together to ensure that everybody is safe and secure, and that includes the club staff and my officers, as well as the customers in the clubs. Fortunately, serious incidents are rare. I think the most powerful deterrent it to have a visible police presence."

Members of Forest Heath District Council's licensing committee will decide the application relating to Club M tonight.

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