AS a television comedy character Little Britain’s Daffyd Thomas was determined to cause a stir with his garish outfits as the “only gay in the village”.

Now a hotelier has caused kerfuffle in his own Hampshire community with controversial gay slogans scrawled on a blackboard outside his business.

Tourism bosses and some village leaders have criticised hotelier Mark Saqui who wrote “Poofters Welcome Here” on a publicity A-board in Lyndhurst.

Police have even visited the Penny Farthing Hotel after owner Mr Saqui made the comment on a board placed on the pavement outside the front door.

Last month he also came under fire again after the sign read: “There’s more than one gay in the village”.

TV's Daffyd Thomas is the only gay in the village.

The three-star hotel in Romsey Road, Lyndhurst, is a member of New Forest Tourism Association.

An association spokesman said: “Businesses in the New Forest are pleased to welcome all visitors, although the way this is expressed in this case may not be to everyone’s taste.”

A VisitEngland official admitted that the sign could have caused offence and said it would approach the hotel if it received any complaints.

The sign appeared after two gay men won £3,600 damages from a Cornish B&B owner who refused to give them a double room.

The Penny Farthing, which is on one of the main routes into the Forest, describes itself as “gay friendly” on the Internet.

However, Mr Saqui’s decision to refer to homosexuals as “poofters” was condemned at a meeting of Lyndhurst Parish Council.

Chairman Mark Rolle said he was incensed by the remark and added: “The realms of decency were overstepped – we could be branded a village of bigots.”

The sign outside the Penny Farthing with the controversial joke removed.

Fellow councillors Paul Boyes and Angela Trend also said they found the sign offensive.

But Councillor Leonard Cornell defended Mr Saqui, claiming he was merely stating a fact. “The hotel is listed as gay friendly,” he said.

The businessman was criticised two years ago after writing “Big Brother can seriously damage your health” following the death from cancer of ex-contestant Jade Goody.

But the 44-year-old businessman described the latest row as a storm in a teacup.

He said: “The A-board is put out for a joke. It’s just a bit of light-hearted fun and has been for the past ten years.”

Mr Saqui, who has just returned from holiday, added: “The police came and had a chat with my manager. They were probably just following it up because they’d had a complaint but I think they appreciated the humour of the situation. I would never want to offend anyone.”

The sign was outside the hotel for several days, but the slogan on it has since been changed.