Portsmouth Lib Dem leader demands an apology as licensing row deepens

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TWO top council chiefs are still at loggerheads as a row over licensing strip clubs in Portsmouth deepens.

The city’s Lib Dem leader, Councillor Gerald Vernon-Jackson, has demanded an apology from the Tory boss, Councillor Donna Jones.

It comes after claims she made, accusing his party of being ‘hypocritical’ in its campaign to stop a strip club opening in Albert Road.

She claimed when the Lib Dems were in power in 2014, they deliberately raised fees on licensing bids to ‘make money’ from sexual entertainment sites.

Cllr Vernon-Jackson accused the top Tory of lying, claiming that had never been the case. He said: ‘I think the leader of the council should apologise for trying to mislead people. She is not a stupid woman so must have known she was not telling the truth.’

The city’s licensing manager Nickii Humphreys emailed Cllr Vernon-Jackson, saying: ‘I can confirm the additional income for sex establishments reported in the 2013/14 budget related to the adoption of new legislation by PCC to regulate sexual entertainment venues.

‘Previous to this, lap dancing venues were only licensed under the Licensing Act 2003.

‘Technically there was an increase of sex establishment licences as they were previously unregulated under that legislation, but in actual fact the premises were already operating in the city.’

Responding, Cllr Jones said: ‘I stand by my comments. The fact it was due to a change in legislation is no excuse. They purport to be against such venues but when they were running the council in a position to benefit from it, they took full advantage.’