Local activists are reeling following news that Portsmouth City Council have given permission for Starbucks to open a new branch on the site of a proposed strip club. S&C’s guest satirist Claire Denise Udy reports.
After the second failed bid from local businessman Paul Ojla to move his strip club Elegance from Waverley to Albert Road, councillors agreed unanimously to place a Starbucks on the former Conservative Club site.
Cllr Frank Jonas, who was chairing the planning meeting on the 25th of May, said he was ‘delighted with the outcome, as they (sic) make great cakes’.
The decision has caused outrage in the local vicinity among residents and campaigners alike. Green Party member and former candidate for Central Southsea ward, Ian Mcculloch recently started a petition against the rehoming of Elegance, which attracted over 700 signatures. Following the planning meeting, he issued a brief statement:
‘Since permission was given for Starbucks, I’m less worried about undesirable men wandering a residential area at all hours, loitering near schools or peering in the Yoga club on the corner. Starbucks don’t pay their taxes. That right there is criminal.’
Mr Mcculloch has since created another petition on the campaign site 38 Degrees asking for councillors to grant planning permission for a strip club instead.
‘At the end of the day, Paul Ojla is a local business man who puts money into the local economy through his many businesses. I for one think that OJ’s Wholesale is the best place to get multiples of your favourite items for a reduced price. I have four hundred toilet rolls in my living room. All purchased at 1/4 of the price than if I bought them at Waitrose.’
Newly elected councillor for Central Southsea, Steve Pitt, had originally declared an interest that any new venue with an alcohol and music licence in the area would be in direct competition with his venue, the Cellars at Eastney. When reminded he closed the Cellars over a year ago, Cllr Pitt was cleared to vote and voted in favour of a Starbucks instead.
Asked why he was in favour of placing a corporate coffee shop in the midst of a Southsea street already hosting more coffee shops than the whole south coast, he said ‘If I’m not allowed to have a successful local business in the face of pressure from powerful and over-privileged multi-national corporations, then nobody should be.’
If anybody would like to help Paul Ojla appeal the council’s decision, Momentum Portsmouth are showing solidarity by holding a mass coffee afternoon in Guildhall Square this Saturday. Residents are asked to show their support by drinking Nescafe out of Sports Direct mugs at 12pm.
Photography by Sarah Cheverton.