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Sex establishments

All forms of sex establishment require a licence from the Council.

New provisions bring the licensing of lap dancing premises and similar venues in line with other sex establishments (sex shops and sex cinemas). They allow the licensing authority to prescribe a wider range of conditions on the licences of sexual entertainment venues than those available under the Licensing Act 2003, and allow local people to oppose an application for a sex establishment licence if they have legitimate concerns that a sexual entertainment venue would be inappropriate given the character of an area.

In addition they require licences to be renewed at least annually, at which point local people will have the opportunity to raise objections (if any).

Definition of sex establishment

A sex establishment means a sex cinema, sex shop or sexual entertainment venue, defined as:

  • A sex shop is a premises used for business which consists to a significant degree of selling sex articles
  • A sex cinema is any premises used to a significant degree for showing of films which are concerned primarily with, or relate to, or are intended to stimulate sexual activity
  • A sexual entertainment venue means: "any premises at which relevant entertainment is provided before a live audience for financial gain of an organiser. For the purposes of the Act it does not matter whether the financial gain arises directly or indirectly from the performance or display of nudity."

Relevant entertainment means:

  • (a) Any live performance
  • (b) Any live display of nudity
  • which is of such a nature that, ignoring financial gain, it must reasonably be assumed to be provided solely or principally for the purpose of sexually stimulating any member of the audience (whether by verbal or other means)
  • An audience includes an audience of one

Application process

The law defines the way in which an application is made, which includes advertising notice of the application in the local press and displaying a notice outside the premises for a specific time period to give passers by the opportunity to comment by a statutory closing date.

When considering an application for a sex establishment licence the Council may only use the following criteria:

  • the suitability of the applicant
  • whether the person applying is a 'front' person for someone else
  • the location and situation of the premises in relation to other premises in the area
  • whether the number of sex establishments in that locality is equal to, or exceeds the number which the Council considers appropriate for the area.

Consumer complaint

We would always advise that in the event of a complaint the first contact is made with the trader by you - preferably in the form a letter (with proof of delivery). If that has not worked, if you are located in the UK, you can find out about consumer rights at www.gov.uk/consumer-protection-rights.

From outside the UK contact the UK European Consumer Centre.

Other redress

Any person objecting to an application for the grant, renewal or transfer of a licence may give written notice of their objection to the relevant authority, stating the grounds of the objection, within 28 days of the date of the application.

Offences and penalties

Anybody who operates a sex establishment without a licence or fails to comply with licence condition or admits persons under the age of 18 is committing an offence. Penalties upon conviction can range from £1,000 to £20,000.

Licensing policy for sex establishments in the East Suffolk area
Sex Establishment Licensing Policy