POLICE are today trying to close a controversial lap dancing club in time for Christmas – and they hope permanently.
Licensing bosses are today holding an emergency hearing following a drugs raid on the Red Velvet club in Front Street, Consett, County Durham, in the early hours of Saturday.
The licensing hearing was due to take place at 10am at Chester-le-Street Civic Centre.
County Durham’s only lap dancing club was raided by police investigating suspected drug dealing early on Saturday morning, interrupting strippers mid-dance.
Durham Constabulary licensing officer Sgt Tim Robson said four men were arrested in the club and a further three in Newcastle as part of the same probe. Police said they were acting on tip-offs about suspected drug dealing at the venue, which has been operating for five years above a chip shop in Front Street, Consett.
Today police were asking Durham County Council’s statutory licensing committee to immediately suspend the licence.
The same force made a successful application recently to close a pub in Sedgefield with immediate effect, following reports of anti-social behaviour.
Insp Colin Dobson, head of the Alcohol Harm Reduction Unit, said: “Dealing drugs is a serious offence and drug use causes enormous problems for the community.
“When this is combined with alcohol, the problems are magnified.
“We have listened to the community concerns about Red Velvet. We will now be applying to licensing magistrates to review and withdraw Red Velvet’s licence tomorrow.”
Insp Dobson vowed to continue to disrupt criminal activities and urged the community to continue to come forward with intelligence.
Red Velvet successfully applied for a Sexual Entertainment Licence for lap dancing in April this year.
A change in the law meant its owner, former Newcastle Royal Grammar School pupil Sudkev “Sonny” Gill, had to apply for the licence in order for the premises to remain open as a lap dancing club.
North West Durham MP Pat Glass, county councillor Clive Robson, and local police all spoke up to oppose the club remaining open.
But, following a meeting lasting more than six hours, a five-strong licensing panel consisting of Durham county councillors approved the application.
Yesterday Coun Robson described the arrests as “serious and alarming” and said: “As a minimum measure this licence should be immediately revoked in my view.”
Mr Gill was unavailable for comment.
Dealing drugs is a serious offence and drug use causes enormous problems for the communit