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Sex establishments given the red light in Havering

17:16 19 February 2014

Cllr Geoff Starns.

Cllr Geoff Starns.

Archant

A zero-tolerance policy on sex establishments has been adopted across the borough after being agreed by cabinet members last week.

Councillors argued the opening of such businesses, of which there are currently none, would undermine Havering’s family-friendly atmosphere.

After review, it was agreed that all 18 wards were unsuitable for the establishments, which include lap-dancing clubs, sex shops and hostess bars.

Speaking at the town hall, Cllr Geoffrey Starns (Conservative, Havering Park), said: “It is not appropriate in any of the wards and there was a consultation that showed an overwhelming lack of enthusiasm from residents.”

But despite the zero tolerance policy, Cllr Starns admitted there was nothing stopping people from applying for the licences.

“It is a free country,” he said, “there is nothing stopping an application, people still have the right to apply. If they can make an exceptional case then possibly, it might be granted.”

Cllr Michael Deon Burton (Independent Resident’s Group, South Hornchurch), raised concerns and labelled the new policy “unhealthy.”

He said: “I am of the opinion that if any individual wishes to engage in a lawful enterprise within the necessary paramters, the application should be decided on.”

Council leader, Cllr Steven Kelly (Conservative, Emerson Park), supported the decision, saying it would help to deliver the Living Ambition plan, which aims to ensure Havering is a great place to live and raise a family.

He added: “We want people to come and enjoy our parks and open spaces, our fantastic shopping centres and our market. We want them to come and have a good night out at our cinemas, restaurants, pubs and clubs.

“The message we are sending out is very clear – we don’t want to encourage sex establishments to open anywhere in our borough.”

In February 2011, an application to open Romford’s first strip club above Bentley’s Bar in South Street was rejected amid fears it could turn the town centre into a red light district.

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