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It’s £592 to keep pandas, but £1,800 for a sex shop
SEX establishments are being charged almost £4,000 if they want to open a new shop in Worcester – leading to criticism that council chiefs are taking a “moral” view.
The city council has published a raft of licensing fees for 2013/14, revealing new sex shops are being charged 10 times what some other businesses are asked for to obtain a licence.
The charges, which have been frozen, reveal: l Pet shops are charged £320 for a new licence and £220 for renewing an existing one.
l Riding establishments needs £600 for a new licence and the same price for a renewal.
l Dog breeding centres fork out £237 to open as a new business or £118 to renew.
l Boarding kennels are charged £688 for a new premise or £244 to renew.
l Sex shops need to stump up £3,798 as a new business or £1,813 for a renewal A report on it also says massage centres pay £348 for either a new licence or renewal, while tattoo studios fork out £258 and new zoo fees are £592.
During a debate over it during a licensing committee meeting, some politcians hit out at the major differences.
In Worcester the only sex establishment trading is the Private Shop in Lowesmoor, which predominantly sells pornographic DVDs.
Councillor Alan Amos said: “How come that poor little sex shop needs to find £2,000 to renew it when the charge is so out of line with the rest.
“We cannot bring morality into this. It is not part of our remit and could lead to a legal challenge.”
Coun Richard Udall said: “Is there any fees where the charge we set actually covers the cost of administering that licence?
“It’s only £592 to keep pandas but £1,800 or so to renew a sex shop licence.”
Licensing officer Carl Phillips said: “Every year all fees are put through an exercise to see how much officer time I spend dealing with each one. I have to justify my time on each application. It’s then down to the environmental health manager to look at it.”
The freeze is the second one on the trot for licensing fees, with bosses saying that amounts to a reduction when compared to inflation.
After the hearing, Jason Kinsey, manager of the Private Shop in Lowesmoor, said: “We are getting penalised because the charge is extortionate.
“I don’t think it’s very fair and don’t see why there is such a difference.”