Controversy over bid for lap-dancing bar in Sutton

Controversial plans to open Sutton Coldfield’s first lap dancing venue will be put before licensing bosses next week.

Hundreds of people have objected to the plan to turn pub Flints into a members only adult club called Pussycats, serving drinks until 3am, in suburban Mere Green.

City councillors will make their final decision on the eve of a change in the law which would make it harder for lap dancing clubs to open in residential areas.

Terry Holland, chairman of Mere Green neighbourhood forum, said if given the go-ahead the club would change the leafy community.

The 65-year-old, who has lived in the area for 40 years, added: “This might be the thin end of the wedge and you wonder what is going to follow. Mere Green is home to lots of young families and a considerable number of elderly people.

“There will be children walking past every day to school and elderly residents live close. It just doesn’t fit in with the area. We are also concerned we can’t object on moral grounds which to me seems to hit at the very core of our civil rights.”

Coun Maureen Cornish (Con, Sutton Four Oaks) said opponents were “fighting very hard” and have employed a barrister for the case, decided on Wednesday.

She said: “The change in the law is imminent and we hope it will have a bearing on this. I don’t know which way the licensing committee will go but they have to work within the law. We are all keeping our fingers crossed.”

Under plans announced by home secretary Jacqui Smith, lap dancing clubs will fall within the same rules as sex shops and sex cinemas. Councils will have greater powers to control their spread and the clubs, regulated like pubs and bars, could face higher charges for licences.

A parent of two young girls living within 100 yards of the bar, was one of the 122 people who responded during the consultation period, which ended on October 30. In a letter to the council, they said: “This licence would be totally inappropriate as this is a residential area of Mere Green with many successful and professional people and families.

“With a lot of popular and highly respected schools in this vicinity, I strongly believe a place like this is not good for the area and will send wrong messages to our youngsters.”

The owner of the wine bar, Deidre O’Rourke, has defended her plans.