Dear Sir / Madam,
Re: Villa Mercedes, 4 Suffolk Road, Sheffield S2 4AG – Application for grant of a sexual entertainment venue licence
I am writing as a Ward councillor to support the objections from neighbouring properties to the proposed sex entertainment venue.
Aside from any moral objections, there are good reasons for neighbours to be concerned by the possibility of a further sex entertainment venue in the area, very close to the existing Spearmint Rhino.
There are obvious concerns about the potential for crime and disorder, particularly affecting young women: the premises are adjacent to a large block of Unite student accommodation, the Leadmill and Scotia Works, which accommodates a number of projects supporting vulnerable women. The safety of young students who may be living away from home for the first time is of particular importance.
The issue of crime and disorder is of particular concern when there is evidence that the proprietors have recently been stripped of the licence from their operation in Harrogate. Not only did the proprietors breach the terms of the licence but the licensing authority found there was also evidence of extensive non-cooperation “despite considerable input from the council and the police over a period of six months.”
The application cannot be considered in isolation from the existing venue at Spearmint Rhino. The authority’s SEV Licensing Policy requires the authority to consider the appropriate number of sex establishments for the locality, noting that that number may be nil. In this case, I do not feel the authority can justify increasing the number to two.
The setting will affect the Cultural Industries Quarter conservation area. The point of the CIQ is to safeguard not only the physical character of the buildings but also the activity to be found within it. This will be adversely affected by the opening of a second sex entertainment venue.
I note that the applicants do not have the benefit of planning consent. This seems particularly relevant as section 28 of the SEV licensing Policy emphasises the authority’s expectation that applicants “will have already obtained any necessary planning consent.” This already points to evidence of the non-cooperation experienced by Harrogate Borough Council.
I would therefore support the objectors and look forward to receiving the Licensing Service’s proposals. In particular, I would expect to see a full equality impact assessment being produced.
Councillor Douglas Johnson