Racism row over former Birmingham burlesque club
The owner of a bar looking to open on the site of a former Birmingham burlesque club has accused the police of racism after they objected to the granting of a new licence.by Tom Dare
Tina’s Club at 240 Broad Street is applying for a variation of its licence, which currently only allows it to act as a burlesque club under a previous licence granted in 2013.
The new owner wants the council to agree to drop such conditions from the licence, with a representative of the applicant claiming that is it not feasible in the current climate for any burlesque club to operate safely.
However West Midlands Police are opposing the application, citing the fact that Broad Street is in a ‘cummulative impact’ area and that granting a new licence to a new bar could see crime and disorder in the area increase.
Back in January police visited the premises, thought to have been closed at the time, to find a large gathering of around 20 people, with no sign that the agreed upon conditions were being adhered to.
The applicant claims that the event in January was a private gathering and that no licensable activities have taken place on the premises.
During a site visit earlier this year the applicant, Mr Than, told police that he believes they were only objecting to his application on racist grounds – while the police claim that the door policy itself is racist.
“My client’s position is that PC Rohomon, when he visited the premises in January or February this year, said that whatever he applies for in respect of this licence would be objected to,” a representative for the applicant said at a hearing this week.
“And that’s why my client’s formed the view of a racial motivation, or that he feels based on that conversation as he understood, that he’s being singled out unfairly.”
However, responding to the allegation, PC Rohomon said that it was in fact Mr Than who initially told the police that he would only be allowing certain ethnic groups into the bar.
“I’ve spoken to Mr Than on several occasions asking what was going on – initially we were going to oppose the transfer of the premises licence, but in the end we didn’t, because we were happy and content that the conditions on the premises licence restricted its use to what it was before – which was a lap dancing club,” he said.
“I do take some exception to Mr Than now alleging that I misunderstood comments about who the door policy was aimed at. I’m sorry, but that was made to me both on the phone and when we went to do a visit at the premises, subsequently, with licensing officer Chris Jones.
“That it was only for people of his ethnic origin, and nobody else, because ‘they’ve got nowhere else to go on Broad Street.’ Nowhere else at all. That was the comment. And when I pointed out the fact that that was probably a racist policy, then Mr Than turns the tables and calls me racist on several occasions.
“So Mr Than was indicating that we were being racist, because we were only opposing him because he was Chinese, or of that ethnic origin. An allegation I wholeheartedly disagree with and dispute.”
The application will be decided upon within five working days.