Chairman of the Policy and Organisation Board (Councillor Hook) (ex-officio); Councillors Ms Ballard (P), Carter (P), Champion (P), Mrs Champion (P), Mrs Cully, Davis (P), Farr (P), Foster (P), Foster-Reed (P), Jacobs (P), Rigg (P), Smith (P).
Also in attendance
Mr R Atkinson, Mr C Blake, Mr M Bulman, Mr G Cleland, Mr E J Cook, Mr J. Coughlan, Mr H Dawson, Major P Fallows, Mr M J Macaulay, Mrs M Oscroft, Mr S Oscroft, Mrs G Payce, Mr L Payce, Mr T Powell, Cllr Mrs J Salter, Mr M W Salter and Mr N Taylor.
Apologies for inability to attend the meeting were submitted on behalf of the Chairman of the Policy and Organisation Board (Councillor Hook) and Councillor Mrs Cully.
DECLARATIONS OF INTEREST
There were no declarations of interest.
RESOLVED: That the Minutes of the meeting of the Licensing Board held on 5 September 2006 be approved and signed by the Chairman as a true and correct record.
APPLICATION FOR A SEX ESTABLISHMENT LICENCE
The Chairman welcomed members of the public to the meeting and asked that those people wishing to make representations to the Board identify themselves. Councillor Mrs Salter, Mr Lesley Payce, Major Peter Fallows, Mr Terry Powell and Mr M J Macaulay all expressed a wish to address the Board.
Consideration was given to a report of the Environmental Services Manager (a copy of which is attached to these Minutes at Appendix ‘A’) advising the Board of an application for a Sex Establishment Licence for premises situated at 147a Forton Road, Gosport from Mr John David Coughlan.
In answer to questions from Members concerning the premises detailed on the map at Appendix B to the report, it was confirmed that whilst public houses had been included, several clubs with family membership operating in the area had not been included. Members were thanked for drawing attention to these additional premises for consideration.
Members were advised that it had not been a statutory requirement to consult with the Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service. However, the premises would be subject to the required health and safety checks.
It was confirmed that, in considering the application, Members could take into account the character of the area and the proximity of the existing licensed sex establishment in Forton Road. Members also sought clarification on Article 8 of the Human Rights Act 1998 and were advised that this legislation gave justification to their consideration of a right of respect for private and family life but that in considering this right they must also comply with other relevant legislation.
Councillor Mrs Salter was invited to address the Board and read out her letter of objection dated 5 September 2006.
Mr Payce was invited to address the Board. He explained that he was born in Russell Street and attended the Salvation Army Youth Group and the local Cub Scouts. Efforts had been made over recent years to regenerate this part of Gosport and legislation was in place allowing the refusal of an application that would be detrimental to the character of the area. He then reiterated the information contained in his letter of 7 September 2006 detailing properties in the vicinity of the application premises.
In answer to a Member’s question, Mr Payce confirmed that he understood that the premises could continue to trade without a licence but that they would be prevented from selling R18 videos. It was explained to Mr Payce that more control could be exerted over the window displays and the type of material sold in the shop were it to have a licence than if it were to remain unlicensed. Mr Payce conceded that he would not want to see more explicit displays in the window and stated that he was concerned that violent videos would be supplied.
Major Fallows, Salvation Army, was invited to address the Board. He reiterated the information contained in his letter dated 11 September 2006 concerning the activities run on the Salvation Army premises. He stated that they had a duty of care to everyone visiting their premises and he objected to the close proximity of the proposed sex establishment.
Mr Powell was invited to address the Board and he stated that he objected to the granting of another licence for a sex establishment in view of the proximity of the already licensed premises. He expressed concern that pornographic films would be supplied that contained material degrading both to those who took part and those who watched, many of which may contain images of children. In answer to a Member’s confirmation that these types of films would not be licensed, Mr Powell asked for an assurance for the people of Gosport that this type of film would not be supplied.
Mr Macaulay declined to address the Board as he stated that the points he wished to raise had been covered by other speakers.
Mr Blake, Business Manager for the Applicant was invited to address the Board. He stated that he would try and answer the questions raised by earlier speakers. He advised that the company worked closely with local Councils and the Police to ensure that people in the area were catered for. The company already ran licensed premises in Aldershot, Andover and Stockport. CCTV systems were installed in these stores and two had inner doors and covered windows to prevent views of the interiors. Young people were asked for identification (ID) to ensure that sales were not made to under 18 year olds. People did sometimes ask for unlicensed videos but they did not stock this type of material in their stores and they would pass customer details on to the Police. The Aldershot store had been operating for 10 years without complaint.
In answer to a question from the Chairman, Mr Blake explained that R18 videos contained mainstream sexual images but did not contain violence or images of children. Videos that were termed “snuff” videos contained images of violence and death and were illegal. Under no circumstances would his company supply this type of video.
Mr Blake confirmed that he would like to retain the ‘LED’ sign in the window of the Forton Road premises as it displayed the opening times for the shop. He also confirmed that the window display would be retained unless its removal became a licensing condition. He did not consider it to be any more offensive than the type of display seen in Contessa Stores or other lingerie shops.
In answer to Members’ questions concerning market research, Mr Blake confirmed that this had been carried out before the store was opened. Mr Coughlan and he had driven past the Utopia store twice before noticing it and they wished to make their store more visible. Although they did not wish to offend people they did not want people to think the store contained worse material than it did and would like to retain the display. They also considered that they provided a different service to Utopia.
Mr Blake also confirmed that they were aware of the places of worship in the vicinity of the premises but had chosen this site because it was in a busy commercial part of the street and next door to a tattoo shop. He advised that the Andover shop had a church within 500 yards of the premises. He did concede that some people may consider an area to be seedy by having two sex establishments in close proximity.
When asked why Gosport had been chosen for the sex establishment instead of Portsmouth, Fareham or Lee on the Solent, Mr Blake informed Members that Portsmouth already had 3 licensed sex establishments, Fareham had no secondary commercial premises available and the site in Gosport had been chosen because of the volume of traffic in and out of the centre of the town and the commercial nature of this site.
In summing up, Mr Blake again expressed his willingness to work with the Council and the Police to ensure the business ran according to plan.
The Board adjourned to consider the application, the result of which was that a licence would not be granted.
The Chairman advised the applicant that he had the right of appeal to the Magistrates Court within 21 days.
RESOLVED: That the application for a Sex Establishment Licence for premises situated at 147a Forton Road Gosport be refused for the following reasons:-
the Board have had regard to another sex shop in the locality in addition to the existing sex establishment. The Board considered that overall, the sex shops in this locality would have a cumulative adverse impact, taking into account the high level of regeneration of the area; and
The Board noted concerns that the applicants appear not to be aware of the number of places of worship, schools, public places and community facilities in close proximity to 147a Forton Road.