Ampthill residents protest against lap-dancing club

image captionAbout 700 residents of Ampthill gathered to hand over a petition to the council

Hundreds gathered in the centre of a Bedfordshire market town to protest against the prospective opening of a lap-dancing club.

About 700 Ampthill residents met on Monday to give a petition to a representative of Central Bedfordshire Council, signed by over 2,000 people.

They want the successful application for a Sexual Entertainment licence to be reviewed by the local authority.

The council said the business meets all the necessary legal criteria.

The application for the three storey building in the town square, which has been empty for four years, was made by "Lord" John Shaylor, who had previously tried to run a coffee shop and restaurant there.

The licence the club gained in July is subject to conditions from the police and the council.

'Hands tied'

There must be no display of signs related to the entertainment on offer outside the premises.

Approximately a third of the town's population have signed a petition opposing it, saying it is out of keeping with the Georgian town's high street.

Matthew Dear, from the We Love Ampthill group, estimated around 700 people attended the protest against the club.

He said: "It is quite frankly the wrong place.

"It's a residential area, it's a gateway to the town, it's opposite a toy shop and adjacent to a children's ballet studio, I can't think of a less suitable place."

The council said it understood the strength of community feeling but its "hands are tied by licensing regulations".

Council leader James Jamieson said councillors "concluded that none of the grounds on which the licence could be refused had been met.

"This left them with no alternative but to grant a licence," he added.

"We will do everything in our power to make sure every single one of the conditions laid out in the licence is strictly enforced."

Mr Shaylor has yet to comment but earlier this year he told BBC Three Counties that his purpose was "not to upset the people of Ampthill" but to put a building he owned back in use.

"I'm not doing it for the Ampthill people, I'm doing it for me," he said.

"I need to make that building earn money."

The town's Deputy Mayor Paul Duckett will present the petition at a council meeting in November.

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