Legitimate sex industry helps boost jobs and revenue in Luton

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A policy to control sex establishments and sexual entertainment venues in Luton is being updated by the borough council for the first time since 2010.

The town currently has one premises licensed as a sex establishment and one licensed as a sexual entertainment venue.

The local authority will monitor the continuing expansion of the leisure industry, according to a report to its administration and regulation committee.

This “provides an essential contribution to the local economy in jobs and revenue in the borough”, the report explained.

But the council recognises the need to balance this with the heritage of the area, while protecting the interest of residents.

The report sets out how the local authority will manage compliance with licensing policy and enforcement of any premises found to be in breach of its licence.

“The council has not imposed any restriction on the number of licences issued,” said the report.

Councillor James Taylor asked whether there was a reason why the number is not limited.

“If we can restrict the number of hot food takeaways via a ban, I don’t see why we couldn’t do the same here,” said Cllr Taylor, who chairs the committee.

The council’s service director for public protection, Sarah Hall said: “In terms of licensing, those authorities that have tried to limit by number have been subject to legal challenge.

“It’s much more effective to have a really stringent test of where we’ll accept licensed premises to be, rather than saying we’ll have no more than five, first come, first served.”

The council has tightened up where such premises might be located to avoid residential areas, schools and nurseries, community buildings, churches or mosques,  as well as parks and recreational facilities.

Cllr Rachel Hopkins asked whether the premises are “monitored stringently”.

Ms Hall replied: “Any applicant would need to show how their business did not contravene other council policies.

“We can continue to monitor that throughout the lifetime of the licence and bring it back if we find there is explotation, or if they’re not operating in a way we consider to be appropriate when they made the application.”

The committee agreed to support the changes made to the council’s statement of licensing policy for sex establishments.