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Surprise as Breckland Council proposes cut in licensing fees for adult entertainment venues

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Sex shops and lap dancing clubs are not usually the sorts of businesses that councils necessarily encourage in their area.

But there’s good news for anyone looking to set up such a venture in Breckland, after the local authority decided to drop the costs of doing so by up to 20 per cent.

Breckland District Council is planning to reduce the fees for people wanting to establish ‘sexual entertainment venues’ in the area – at the same time that it is increasing or maintaining licensing charges in most other areas.

Breckland Council logo. (52821187)
Breckland Council logo. (52821187)

It is making the changes as part of a wider review of its fees and charges, which are rising or staying the same in nine out of 10 of the licensing cases.

Around 80 per cent of the licensing fees are being raised, while 12 per cent are staying the same or being assessed case-by-case.

But for ‘sexual entertainment venues’ – which includes erotic dancing venues, sex shops and cinemas – fees could fall by almost 20 per cent, among the biggest reductions being introduced.

A spokeswoman insisted the reduction was not intended to “encourage or discourage” such types of business, and that the change was to reflect the estimated cost of handling such applications.

The changes have raised eyebrows among councillors, however, with Labour’s opposition leader Terry Jermy saying he was “surprised” by the proposals.

It currently costs £1541.48 to apply for a licence for a sexual entertainment venue in Breckland.

Under the proposed changes, it will be slashed by roughly 20 per cent to £1,200, although if the application prompts any objections, the fee rises to £1,500 – still lower than the current level.

By contrast, the price of a scrap metal dealer’s licence is increasing from £222.98 to £330, and an application fee to open a business hiring out horses has gone up from £200 to £290.

Mr Jermy added: “It is important that the council estimates as accurately as possible the cost incurred in processing such applications so that the costs do not fall on the tax-payer.

“Council funds are stretched enough without additional costs being incurred in processing private applications such as these. I am surprised that these proposed costs are going down though.”

A council spokeswoman said: “There is no intent behind this to either encourage or discourage these types of business. The council has reviewed all of its fees and charges, based on full cost recovery.

“We cannot make a profit, and any fee that is charged that is below the actual cost will fall on the taxpayer to subsidise the cost. We have therefore reviewed all of our fees and charges to account for actual costs and the proposed fees and charges are based on full cost recovery.”

The only sex establishment currently in Breckland is a sex shop in Thetford called Absolookley.

During the filming of the late noughties ITV series Kingdom, which starred Stephen Fry, a Break charity shop in Swaffham was transformed into a fictional retailer called Tiger Lily’s Sex Shop.

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