�2,200 to appply for a sex establishment licence in Brentwood

COUNCILLORS gave unanimous approval to draft plans to give the borough a new sex establishment licence policy on Tuesday night.

But the price businesses should have to pay to apply to open new establishments was debated between councillors and an officer.

Members of the planning and licensing committee accepted proposals which could see anyone wanting to open a strip or pole dancing club, sex shop or sex cinema in Brentwood having to pay �2,200 just to apply.

Officer Simon Harvey, referring to administration by council staff, said: “I come from Colchester. We had two sex shops – I can tell you they generated a lot of work.”

But when asked by Cllr Tony Sleep the fee charged for the same applications in Colchester was, Mr Harvey replied that it is �5,000.

He pointed out that in some parts of London the fee is �20-30,000 and in Castle Point it is just “�400 or thereabouts”.

He told the committee: “You cannot set a fee that would be prohibitive and to be seen to put people off – that would be totally illegal.”

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Cllr David Tee said: “I think so long as it’s not seen that the fee is deterring – well I hope in a way it is deterring... a fee of �5,000 is not being unreasonable.”

The draft plan includes a list of places that an establishment could not be near, including residential accommodation, premises for children, religious centres, leisure centres, or areas due for regeneration.

There will be a six week consultation on the draft policy, including the level the fee should be.

Earlier this year the committee made clear that it wanted to refuse any such applications as a matter of course, but members were advised by Mr Harvey that each has to be considered on its own merit.

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