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MP opposes sex licence for Rochester pub

Mark Reckless
Mark Reckless

A Rochester pub is fighting to carry on having strip shows in the face of opposition from local residents - including an MP.

Mark Reckless is objecting to the application from Charlotte's Bar for a "sexual entertainment licence".

He is one of five residents who have written to Medway Council opposing the bid by the former Queen Charlotte pub in the High Street, which has offered lap dancing for six years. The licencing hearing takes place today, Tuesday.

Landlord Luke Tumana wants to stage lap, table and pole dancing and strip shows in its basement every night from Wednesdays to Saturdays.

He launched the shows six years ago, but new licensing laws mean he now has had to seek permission for them to take place.

The Rochester and Strood MP claimed the shows were "inappropriate" because of Rochester’s heritage and the pub’s closeness to the King’s School, Rochester Independent College and the Rochester Community Hub.

Mr Reckless, who lives in nearby Gundulph Square, said a "significant number" of constituents had raised concerns with him, though he would not reveal the exact number.

He stood by his views, adding: "I wouldn’t say I hold strong views and I’m not leading any general campaign against lap dancing.

"It will be decided by councillors, not me. I did think it was appropriate for me to make a representation, given the strength of feeling of the views that have been given to me."

If approved, the shows would end at 12.30am on Wednesdays and Thursdays and 2am on Fridays and Saturdays.

Former doorman Mr Tumana, who is due to appear before a panel of four Conservative councillors today said: "I am not out to upset any of my neighbours, and he is entitled to his opinion.

"As long as I’m given a fair hearing, I will have to accept it. I have met all the criteria and we have had a good relationship with the police and the council."

Neighbour Mandy Comber said Star Hill and New Road were "well-known as the red light area of Rochester" and wrote to oppose the plans.

She added: "Earlier this year I was subjected to an incident outside my home where two drunken men screamed sexual expletives.

"How will Medway Council ensure that customers frequenting a show for sexual titillation do not then behave in an unacceptable manner when they leave?"

Mr Tumana, 41, said the entertainment was not seedy and added: "We live in changing times."

See medwaymessenger.co.uk for details of today's hearing.

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