New school forces sex shop changes

Posted: March 14, 2013

The opening of a new school in Plymouth, along with stricter controls on licensed premises in the city introduced last year, have obliged the owner of adult store Slinkies on Manor Street to agree to a change of opening hours and signage. reported that on March 12th the city council’s licensing committee heard the application to renew the shop’s licence. Store manager Mr Mitchell told the committee that CCTV had been installed in the lobby area to allow staff to watch for loiterers or children, who are expected to be passing the store in larger numbers due to the Plymouth School of Creative Arts opening later this year. He said: “If you walk a few feet from the premises only the main fascia board is visible,” adding that the shop had traded from the same premises for over 40 years and, “in all that time there has never been an occasion when the police have had to attend, or a complaint has been made.”

Despite the existence of the shop presumably being known long before the site for the school was decided, Dave Strudwick, headteacher designate of the school opposed the renewal of Slinkies’ licence. He commented: “It’s about the tone, character and aspirations of the area.” Opening in September fewer than 400ft from the store, the planned school is supported by Plymouth College of Art. That establishment’s principal, Professor Andrew Brewerton, also objected to the regranting of the licence, saying: “Activities that were once considered appropriate on Union Street [which Manor Street is off] need to be re-examined”.

Showing admirable willingness to adapt to a situation not of Slinkies’ making, Mr Mitchell offered to change the shop’s opening hours to negate its impact on passing schoolchildren. During the hearing Mr Mitchell and Mr Strudwick were given time for private negotiations, finally agreeing weekday hours from 9.30am, with a 3.15-4.15pm ‘siesta’ period in afternoons, closing the shop when pupils might be in the area. From the school’s second school year, starting in September 2014, the afternoon closure will be until 4.30pm.

After discussion between council members, the new opening hours, as mutually agreed between Mitchell and Strudwick, along with the addition of CCTV and changes to signage were deemed enough to protect children. Slinkies’ licence renewal was granted, on the understanding the revised opening hours will come into force from September.