No red light for sex shops, says council

PUBLISHED: 12:51 14 September 2006 | UPDATED: 09:51 31 May 2010

SEX shops could be coming to a town or village near you following the district council s likely decision not to ban such establishments. Last night (Wednesday) Uttlesford District Council s officers recommended to the licensing committee that when prospec

SEX shops could be coming to a town or village near you following the district council's likely decision not to ban such establishments.

Last night (Wednesday) Uttlesford District Council's officers recommended to the licensing committee that when prospective sex shop owners apply for licences they are judged on their own merits.

This was despite 12 town and parish councils having responded to a questionnaire stating the establishments would be most unwelcome within their boundaries.

Stansted parish clerk Ruth Clifford said she was shocked the committee had been recommended not to adopt a policy regarding sex shops.

"I am very surprised that the committee is expected to allow sex shops to be considered in the district, especially within the boundaries of a parish such as ours which made it clear there were no suitable locations," she said.

"The parish council was unable to locate suitable places within the village for sex shops so it is disappointing that they could still open here.

"Stansted is a lovely small, rural village and we don't want to become an urban settlement, which is in danger of happening if sex shops were allowed to trade here.

"There are wonderful pubs, restaurants and plenty of things to do in the village and people come to visit from miles of around, so we don't want to start attracting the wrong sort of people."

Mrs Clifford added she was annoyed the council had gone to the trouble to ask parish councils for their views but then recommended the licensing committee do not adopt a policy on the subject.

"It seems surprising that the council would bother to ask our opinions if they weren't going to listen to the opinions expressed," she said.

UDC's executive manager for corporate governance, Michael Perry, said the recommendation was made because the committee members do not have sufficient evidence on which to substantiate either a policy to prevent sex establishments or one which imposes strict limits on the number allowed.

He added that such policies could attract a judicial review and that every application should be dealt with on its individual merits.

The recommendation also states that applications for sex shops must be advertised and the committee should consider any representations received.

In June, the Reporter gauged public opinion in Saffron Walden on the possibility of sex shops opening in the district.

Sally Keyte, 44, said: "I really don't think the town needs a sex shop, and I am worried that undesirable characters may be encouraged to visit."

Meanwhile, a pensioner who wished to remain nameless, said older people would be mortified if such a shop existed in the town.

- WHAT do you think? Email us at editor@saffronwalden-reporter.co.uk

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