COUNCILLORS are expected to reveal their decision on a controversial plan to build a new strip club in the centre of Portsmouth.
Licensing chiefs have spent a week mulling over a bid to open the much-fought-against lap dancing venue in Albert Road, Southsea.
Now, they are expected to finally reveal their decision on whether they will grant a sexual entertainment premises license for Elegance.
The venue is currently based in Granada Road, Southsea, but has been shut for a while. The club’s owner, Paul Ojla, wants to move the site to Albert Road, re-opening it at the former Conservative club.
However, the plans have outraged the community, who have rallied to fight against it.
Campaigners say the club could create more crime in the area, bringing in ‘undesirable drunks’ into the city street. They also claim it could jeopardise the safety of women in the area and that it was against the city’s own ‘nil-cap’ policy on sexual entertainment sites.
But Mr Ojla, who also owns Wiggle, in Surrey Street, Landport, said neither of his clubs have had a detrimental impact on their local area and said security at Elegance would be tight.
Steve Pitt, Lib Dem ward member for Central Southsea, said he would be gobsmacked if councillors granted the application; they have already green-lit a licence to serve booze at Elegance and Wiggle.
‘This is very simple,’ Cllr Pitt said. ‘The residents and the businesses along Albert Road told us they didn’t want a strip club there.
‘The residents were very clear on this – 500 people signed our petition saying they didn’t want it there.
‘I think there will be a lot of hostility to a decision that doesn’t list to the people.
‘The city’s sexual entertainment venue policy was designed to give the residents a very clear voice. To ignore this would be a bad move.’
What would happen next?
At previous meetings, Mr Ojla said that if the decision to move to Albert Road was granted, he would open up Elegance there.
He added the current site of the venue would not be a strip club, stressing that the city would not gain an additional lap dancing site on top of the two it already has.
If his bid is unsuccessful, he said he would seek to re-open the Granada Road club instead.
Disgruntled residents have blasted his plans, with the Portsmouth City Council receiving more than 70 objections.
One resident against the proposal said: ‘I object strongly to this club which will turn Southsea into an undesirable, sleazy area in which I will feel very unsafe.
‘There is enough rape and sexual abuse already without having these men on the streets seeking sexual satisfaction.’
Another opposer added: ‘This sort of venue will just bring more rowdy, drunk men to this area – stag nights and sleazy men where there are families and young children nearby.’
If approved, the venue would open from 9pm to 4am seven days a week.