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Medway Council bans any more strip clubs in Rochester

Strip club stock picture
Strip club stock picture

New strip clubs are being banned for Rochester

by Nisha Chopra

No more strip clubs will be allowed to open in a historic Kent town after an unprecedented ruling last night.

Medway Council introduced its first ban on any more venues in Rochester being given sex entertainment licences.

However, councillors voted against extending the restriction to Chatham - despite campaigners' pleas.

Licenses to run strip shows were awarded to Charlotte's Bar and the Casino Rooms, both in Rochester, when new controls were introduced earlier this year.

Casino Rooms in Rochester
Casino Rooms in Rochester

But concerns were raised as the venues, the only two licensed in Medway, are just a few hundred feet from each other.

So a public consultation was launched on a proposed exclusion zone where no more than two "sexual entertainment venues" could have a licence at any time.

The term covers any venue with live stripping or nude shows.

Cllr Vince Maple, leader of the Labour group in Medway, said residents have been ignored.

He said: "The committee agreed to have to the zone for Rochester. Residents in Chatham asked for that zone to be extended and very disappointedly the Conservatives chose not to have that extension.

"Some of the Conservatives were saying by the nature of having a bigger zone that puts more risk on the council. I think that's a very weak argument.

"The zone was not for the whole of Medway and it was about listening to residents who applied to the consultation."

Before the ban was enforced, Charlotte's Bar owner Luke Tumana, who won Medway's first £4,300-a-year licence amid protests from the Historic Rochester Residents' Association, welcomed the move.

He said: "I’m glad there are only going to be two."

What do you think? Join the debate by adding your comments below
What do you think? Join the debate by adding your comments below

Cllr Maple, ward councillor for Chatham central ward, added the move places residents in Chatham in a weaker position than those in Rochester.

He said: "It's about looking at the character of the community - and most people agree having a number of strip clubs next to Rochester Cathedral wouldn't be acceptable.

"It's a disappointment the extension wasn't made to Chatham - they've had a historic issue with prostitution. That's not to say there's a link between a strip club and prostitution, but it's about saying how do you deal with an area which has a perceived issue.

"We want to have an area of aspiration, so we don’t want to have excessive amounts of strip clubs in our community."

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