Croydon Council is to reduce the fees charged for licensing sex shops and strip clubs in the borough.
In a report submitted to next week’s meeting of the licensing committee, Hamida Ali, the new councillor fast-streamed to take charge of the safety and justice brief in the Town Hall cabinet, proposes a reduction in licence charges, following a recent High Court legal ruling.
And, following the Brexit vote in June, Croydon’s sex shop fees reduction could be one of the final occasions when an EU directive is cited as reason for a change in council policy.
The fee reductions come when Council Tax and the fees charged by the local authority to other businesses which utilise street space have all been increased.
The fee changes apply to legally licensed sex shops, cinemas or clubs – the various brothels which operate around the borough will continue to do so outside the law and without paying a penny to the authorities for the privilege.
Anyone wishing to open a new sex shop or club will in future have to pay Croydon Council £5,299 to get a licence for their establishment. That fee is barely changed from the previous licensing charge.
But renewal fees are to be reduced by more than £300 – from the £3,211 to £2,872.
Other fees are also to be reduced.
According to Ali’s report, “Members are referred to the recent High Court case of Hemming v Westminster City Council which established that authorities, in setting or determining sex establishment fees to be charged could not include within the fees set an element for enforcement against unlicensed operators. In addition, one of the effects of the EU Services Directive, which remains in force, is that fees determined may encompass the reasonable costs of reimbursing the Council for the administrative processes of dealing with an application but may not include costs of broader enforcement.”
So the council is now only able to charge fees directly related to its costs in administering them – according to the report’s appendix, usually at a rate of £99 per hour for the services of a council official.
According to the report, there are three licensed sex establishments in the borough, two of them sex shops and “Larry Flynt’s Hustler Club (sexual entertainment venue)”, which is right next door to a 99p store on Crown Hill.
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