‘The Hemming Case’ [see ETO issue 113] continues to cause ripples around the UK with ETO learning of two more councils that have reduced annual licence fees in the last month. In Welwyn Hatfield the annual fee has dropped by more than 70%, from £6,000 to £1,400, and the move did not prove popular with borough Labour group leader Kieran Thorpe. He complained to the Welwyn Hatfield Times: “At a time they are making a range of cuts it seems baffling they would cut things that provide education for children and adults and do this for sexual entertainment.”
The newspaper did set him straight, pointing out: “The drop was due to a Westminster diktat which meant authorities could not profit from the fee, nor deter bawdy businessmen.”
Over in Shropshire, the council has announced that its annual licence fees will be 42% cheaper for 2014/15. A first application will now cost £1,159 (instead of £2,025) while renewals will be £997 (formerly £1,755). The Shropshire Star also reported that councillors questioned the reduction, saying they were surprised at the cut at a time when fees for things such as pest control were going up. Councillor Jean Jones said: “While sex shop licences are going down, there are huge rises in the treatment of rats. It seems to be an odd vision of our society.”
But the newspaper reported that the council had no choice but to reduce the fees in line with national guidelines.