Council under fire over new sex club approval

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Milton Keynes Council is facing calls to review its licensing policy after a controversial sex club was granted planning permission – two years after the man behind it was given a formal warning.

An application to turn office space in the CBX building at 488 Midsummer Boulevard into a gentleman’s club was approved last week, despite opposition from nearby business – and the chairman of the council’s development control panel admitting he would rather have turned it down.

Councillor Mick Legg said the decision had to be made based on planning laws and not objections on the basis of morality.

However, as the application – submitted by Richard Winterbottom, the former owner of the Phoenix Club at the Leisure Plaza – had already been given licensing permission, he could find no reason to turn it down on planning grounds.

It has also emerged that the license for the Phoenix Club was up for review two years ago following 27 ‘incidents’ at the premises in the previous 18 months. The review was made by Thames Valley Police on grounds of ‘prevention of crime and public safety’.

Mr Legg claimed it was “bizarre” that local residents were not properly consulted on the application, and was clearly reluctant to approve it.

And Central Milton Keynes Town Councillor Linda Inoki said the council should now review its licensing policy.

“Other councils have put a strict limit on this type of establishment and perhaps we need the same here,” she said.

“Some people feel there are already too many betting shops, for example, in CMK, and this new club could be the thin end of the wedge.

“It’s about keeping CMK a safe, attractive place for residents, visitors and workers, and what could be more important than that?”

The council said in a statement: “We spoke to the local parish council, ward members, and in relation to the premises or alcohol licence, we contacted every premises within 50 metres of the proposed establishment, which meant sending out more than 100 letters.

“There were also public notices placed in the local press, as well as notices posted outside the proposed venue itself.

“However, we are consulting on our Sex Establishment Licence process next year, and would welcome any comments.”