Mansfield councillor in pub ban shock

09-2556-1''Coun Nick Bennett

09-2556-1''Coun Nick Bennett

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A COUNCILLOR’S bid to chair Mansfield’s licensing committee faced last orders after it emerged the operators of three town night spots have barred him.

Labour’s Nick Bennett also faced claims he made racist comments in the presence of staff and had acted ‘improperly’.

Mr Bennett fiercely denied all the allegations, also claiming he was unaware of the ban.

But his bid to chair the panel was defeated by a vote at last Tuesday’s Mansfield District Council meeting.

Councillors were about to decide the issue when independent mayor Tony Egginton read out an email from the directors of the Cheeky Money, Andwhynot and Late Lounge bars, all on Leeming Street.

In it Jonathan Edwards and Paul Anderton said they were ‘raising concern’ over Mr Bennett’s proposed role.

“Councillor Bennett has not been permitted to frequent our venues for the past couple of years due to his unfit and improper behaviour whilst out drinking in Mansfield town centre,” they said.

“He has made racist and abusive comments towards our door staff at The Late Lounge and also threatened our management of the Cheeky Monkey with licence review because he was refused entry because he was intoxicated.”

After the meeting Mr Edwards clarified his claim, saying the racist comments concerned were actually made to him, but referred to door staff.

After the email was read out Mr Bennett’s bid to chair the committee was defeated by six votes.

The council instead elected Peter Crawford into the role, which runs the committee which has power to effectively sanction the opening and closing down of pubs and clubs.

After the vote Mr Bennett said: “There have never been any complaints about my conduct made to the standards committee.

“I feel victimised. This is political mischief making and the letter is most untrue.”

Later he added: “It’s the first time it’s come to my attention that I’ve ever been banned.

“People who know me will know this is not true.”

He did not deny going out in Mansfield town centre but denied all the claims of the email, insisting he is not racist and there had been no police action. Mr Bennett’s partner of six years is of Indian-Pakistani heritage.

He also said he had been allowed into one of the venues recently without incident.

After the meeting Mr Edwards said: “The comments were made to me and a couple of my managers and referred to my door staff.

“The email was written on a professional basis and the reason for sending it to the mayor were purely professional and in no way whatsoever personal.”

Coun Martin Lee, leader of the council’s Labour group, said: “I don’t think it was a fair or reasonable approach in producing that letter without prior notice.

“There’s general backing for Nick Bennett in the party and I feel it was handled badly and was unfair.”

He added there would be an investigation into the matter.

Mr Egginton rebuffed Mr Lee’s comments, saying: “I had to make people aware; it’s my responsibility to do so if I’ve had that information. Mr Bennett’s role as a councillor is serious and this is about being accountable to the people who elected him.”