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Sunday, September 21, 2003

Sex and licensing

My one participating event at Conference was a fringe meeting at which I was asked to address the issue of the licensing of sex shops. Until I had this invitation I hadn't really given much thought to this issue. The Welsh press of course turned up hoping to get a story. It is too early to know whether they did or not. I took the view that the licensing of sex shops was becoming increasingly problematic not least because goods that would normally be sold by them are now being sold by other shops as well. In addition, if a sex shop keeps the percentage of sex related goods below a certain level then it does not need a licence at all. I felt that it was right that local Councils retain the ability to licence but that the target should not be the establishment but the goods that they sell. This would get around the various loopholes, reduce the cost to the establishment, as the inspection regime would not be so onerous, but also enable accountability and some local control, taking into account the nature of the area, appropriate number of shops etc. It was an intelligent and reasoned discussion between consenting adults that will hopefully belie tabloid style headlines, but we will see.

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