Two licensed adult stores have recently closed their doors and in both cases the local council has played a contributing part in the owners’ decision to close their businesses.
The Adult Gift Shop in Nottingham has been a high profile adult retailer for a number of years, first in the Hockley area and then in the city centre. But when Nottingham City Council amended its licencing structure, including sex shops/cinemas in the same class as ‘sexual entertainment venues’, it significantly increased its fees. A spokesperson for the Adult Gift Shop told ETO that previously the licence fee was £6,400 for application or renewal, payable in two instalments of a non-refundable deposit of £2,000 and the balance when the licence was granted. Under the new structure the licence fee was increased to £13,850 for new applications – which includes change of name and/or premises – and £11,100 for renewals. Furthermore, the council now require the whole sum to be paid upfront upon application and have made the fee non-refundable, so unsuccessful applicants will forfeit the entire amount. The Adult Gift Shop is continuing to trade online at www.theadultgiftshop.co.uk
Secret Desires of Port Talbot ceased being a licensed adult store at the end of February, when its owner transformed the shop into a clothes recycling outlet. Simon Sternschuss was quoted on www.thisissouthwales.co.uk as saying: “I have closed it down because of the aggravation I have had. The licence fee has also gone up. The council licensing officers have been very good, but the councillors have been against it from day one. I feel like the business has been forced out.”
The shop was featured in the media last year when Mr Sternschuss won his appeal for his fire escape to be used as a rear entrance for disabled customers: “The whole appeal with the back door for disabled people cost me £4,000,” he said. “Every time the licensing renewal came up it has been ridiculous. [The councillors] have caused me nothing but aggro and money. I have had enough of them.”
One local councillor said of the adult store: “”Myself and my colleague were against it, as were many people in the community. We did not want the shop there. I am pleased it has gone and I welcome their new shop.”