A policy that effectively prevents the licensing of sexual entertainment venues and sex cinemas in the town centres of Central Bedfordshire has been adopted by the council’s licensing committee.
The council have updated their policy on the licensing of strip clubs and sex cinemas, after residents recently expressed their concern about sexual entertainment venues being allowed in their local area.
An initial telephone survey of 1,123 residents resulted in 63 per cent of respondents saying they did not believe licences for sexual entertainment venues should be granted in their local area. More specifically, the results revealed that at least 80 per cent of respondents were opposed to sex entertainment venues operating in the vicinity of religious buildings, schools, residential areas and places frequented by children and families.
A full public consultation on the draft policy showed similar feelings about the locality of sex establishments. As a result of this feedback, the policy was slightly amended to include schools, nurseries and other premises used by children up to the age of 18, rather than 16, to take colleges into account.
In order to better reflect public opinion, the new policy prevents licences for sex establishments (sexual entertainment venues and sex cinemas only, not sex shops) being granted within 500m of the following places:
• Schools, nurseries or any other premises substantially used by or for children under 18 years of age
• Areas frequented by children and families, eg. tourist attractions
• Residential areas
• Parks or other recreational areas used by or for children under 1 years of age
• Areas frequented by vulnerable adults, eg. care homes
• Areas associated with family leisure and retail
• Community buildings
• Churches or other places of religious worship
• Sites of historical or heritage value
Councillor Brian Spurr, Executive Member for Sustainable Communities (Services), said: “As part of our aim to make Central Bedfordshire a great place to live and work, we’re keen to ensure the character of our towns are preserved and that our high streets remain places where all members of the public feel safe and keen to spend time.
“This new policy demonstrates our commitment to protecting families and that we’ve listened to residents’ opinions given both in the telephone survey and public consultation.”
The council’s previous policy on sex establishments, adopted under schedule 3 of the Local Government (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1982 (as amended), allows the council to set terms, conditions and fees for the grant, renewal, transfer and variation of such licences, and set the number of licences that may be issued in the area.
Sex shops do not need to adhere to this new locality policy, but are still subject to normal licensing conditions for a sex establishment.