Atherton protest over sex club
8:00am Thursday 5th July 2012 in North West
A CROWD of over 100 people gathered in Atherton to protest against plans for the opening of a swingers' club in the main street.
Wigan planners have already passed the application submitted by Sale-based Firas Bakir of Haybak Ltd for the private members club.
But locals, some of them residents in streets which flank both sides of Market Street, claim they were never told that plans for the former nightclub and restaurant premises involved turning it into a 'doggers' paradise'.
Applicant Mr Bakir assured planners that the club wouldn’t cause problems for residents and would be crime free.
The development committee heard that people attending the first floor club would be able to engage in sexual activity or watch others involved in such activity.
When the planning application was approved Wigan Council development control manager Graham Dickman told the development committee that the principle of a private members club under the planning laws was in general deemed an acceptable use within a town centre and the regulations did not encompass moral judgement.
This week Phil and Jane Walsh, who live near the piece in Stanley Street, joined protestors outside the first-floor premises access to which is gained down an alleyway beside a pharmacy.
Mr Walsh said: "Atherton is not the right place for this - it will attract undesirables and I doubt we have sufficient policing to cover potential problems.
Agreeing Mrs Walsh said: "It won't bring anything positive to Atherton, just hassle."
Mum of two Deborah Powell, who lives round the corner in Morley Street, said: "Last time there was a club here we had problems with drug dealers, people having sex in the backs and urinating on the street corner."
Former teacher Frances Raftery, of Car Bank Street, who helped organise the demonstration, was delighted with the level support.
She said: "In case oldies are unaware of the term 'swingers', it is the modern euphemism for a sex club where people can indulge in 'discreet activities of a sexual nature' which will no doubt attract dubious characters from miles around.
"Letters went out to local residents who, seeing the term 'private members club' thought it was merely for another nightclub.
"The planning application was not published in any newspaper as it was just for 'change of use'. We get the impression that Wigan have been trying to keep quiet on this?
"In 2010, plans by the same company for a similar club in Chorlton were thrown out by Manchester City Council."
Rob Walker from Wigan Road said: "I'm amazed that they want to turn sleepy Atherton into a doggers' paradise."
Among those taking part in the street protest were Delphine Martin who said: "Manchester turned it down, why should we have it?" and not elsewhere. Let's concentrate on bringing something good to Atherton."
Objector Mabel Jones said: "People can do anything they want in their own homes but we don't want this here" and Philip Ainscough's opinion was "Residents should have been properly consulted and there should have been a public meeting."
Val Houghton of Atherton Business Partnership said the next step would a licensing application for the club.
"Let's show the licensing people that we don't want this. We're now launching a petition," she said.
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