Renovation hold-ups delay opening of doctor's brothel

A Far North GP converting his doctor's surgery into a brothel says delays caused by renovations have again pushed back its opening date.

Dr Neil Benson says the brothel will be open in about a week but he is not prepared to give an exact opening date "until everything is sorted". Religious groups in the area have opposed the plan.

He closed his Coopers Beach clinic in April last year after a dispute with the Te Tai Tokerau Primary Health Organisation over the provision of after-hours care.

Originally the bordello was to open at the beginning of March, then some time in April.

However, delays in renovation work have again pushed back the opening date.

"Good things take time, things that we had thought will take a certain amount of time have taken longer and that's why we are not open today.

"There have been several things we have had to redo.

"We can't rush things if we want to get it right."

He has also revised how the brothel would run.

"The ladies are going to be starting it themselves. The concept has evolved a little bit - we are space that independent girls can use. We will provide things like bookings, taking care of sheets and they can ply their trade.

"They will set their own rates. We have a room rate. The rest is up to them."

He was in the process of interviewing women interested in working in the brothel after a recruiting trip to Australia earlier this month proved unsuccessful.

Most of the prostitutes working in the brothel would come from Northland.

Dr Benson said getting the business ready had been a difficult and costly process.

"We have to get the buildings paying for themselves. We're trying to minimise our losses.

"It's not that I had any desire to be a brothel owner - I didn't and I still don't. If opening up a tiddly-winks factory had been the right thing to do I would have done that."

Over the past month he had parted ways with Al Gyde, a consultant who had worked with him on the project. The two cite differences of opinion as the reason for the split.

Bob Carr, the priest in charge of St Andrew's Anglican Church in Mangonui, said he had "more or less" forgotten about Dr Benson's plan.

Mr Carr was outspoken when the plan was first announced but believes there will be a lack of clients for the brothel.

"And because of that I hope it falls flat."

- NORTHERN ADVOCATE (WHANGAREI)

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