Posted: Wed 26th Oct 2022

Gwynedd sex shops face large hike in licensing fees as council doubles rate

North Wales news and information
This article is old - Published: Wednesday, Oct 26th, 2022

Sex shops in Gwynedd face a hefty hike in costs after licensing fees were doubled by the county council. ‌​‌‌​​​‌‍‌​‌​‌​​​

Gwynedd Council said it had underestimated the cost of processing licences for sex shops in the county, meaning they were not recouping their costs. ‌​‌‌​​​‌‍‌​‌​‌​​​

Last October, Gwynedd’s full council delegated the power to set fees and amend licence conditions to its general licensing committee. ‌​‌‌​​​‌‍‌​‌​‌​​​

The fees set must be reviewed annually and considered “sufficient” for the council to recover costs. ‌​‌‌​​​‌‍‌​‌​‌​​​

During a meeting of the general licensing committee on Monday, where a review of sex establishment licensing fees was discussed, Gareth Jones, assistant head of the council’s environment department, told members that fees previously put in place “were not enough to recover the council’s costs.” ‌​‌‌​​​‌‍‌​‌​‌​​​

Mr Jones said “We have since undertaken a review to see what the actual costs are. ‌​‌‌​​​‌‍‌​‌​‌​​​

“All we can recover is processing costs, we can’t be seen to me making any money from this. ‌​‌‌​​​‌‍‌​‌​‌​​​

“The fee we had for new applications for a sex shop is £560 and a renewal of £505. ‌​‌‌​​​‌‍‌​‌​‌​​​

“We had thought that would be adequate to recover the costs on the last application we had but that did not come close to us recovering our costs.” ‌​‌‌​​​‌‍‌​‌​‌​​​

Since then, further costings had been undertaken on an actual application for a sex shop licence. ‌​‌‌​​​‌‍‌​‌​‌​​​

A report noted: “This had given the service an opportunity to consider actual costs rather than estimated or presumed costs.” ‌​‌‌​​​‌‍‌​‌​‌​​​

A fee had now also been calculated for the processing and administration of sexual entertainment venue licences – although the report stated the “county does not have any such establishments.” ‌​‌‌​​​‌‍‌​‌​‌​​​

Committee members were asked to consider a report which proposed a fee for sexual entertainment venues of £2,109 for new applications and £2,109 for a renewal. ‌​‌‌​​​‌‍‌​‌​‌​​​

For sex shops, new applications would carry a fee of £1,184, with a renewal application set at £1,184. ‌​‌‌​​​‌‍‌​‌​‌​​​

Fees set by other local authority licensing authorities “were different” and “comparative fees could not be used as a basis for fee–setting”, the meeting heard. ‌​‌‌​​​‌‍‌​‌​‌​​​

For context, the report noted sex establishments licence fees varied from £989 for a licence in Flintshire, £1,655 in Conwy and up to £6,250 in Denbighshire. ‌​‌‌​​​‌‍‌​‌​‌​​​

Councillor Edgar Owen said: “I would like to see us making a profit from it. We have to make sure we are covering our costs, so we should go with the recommendations.” ‌​‌‌​​​‌‍‌​‌​‌​​​

Cllr Gwynfor Owen said: “I accept the reason for these fees for the sexual entertainment venues. I have no problem with that. ‌​‌‌​​​‌‍‌​‌​‌​​​

“But there is nothing in the report to explain what a sex shop is We need to know the definition before we can vote one way or the other. ‌​‌‌​​​‌‍‌​‌​‌​​​

“Can you explain what the definition is and how you reach the conclusion of charging this fee?” ‌​‌‌​​​‌‍‌​‌​‌​​​

Monitoring officer Iwan Evans said: “A sex shop is a shop where more than 30 per cent of the business is designated for selling sex equipment rather than just clothing.” ‌​‌‌​​​‌‍‌​‌​‌​​​

Cllr Gwynfor Owen accepted the definitions saying he also accepted the recommendations. ‌​‌‌​​​‌‍‌​‌​‌​​​

The committee unanimously approved the recommendations for the setting of the fees. ‌​‌‌​​​‌‍‌​‌​‌​​​

An annual review of the fees was also approved by the committee. ‌​‌‌​​​‌‍‌​‌​‌​​​

By Dale Spridgeon – Local Democracy Reporter ‌​‌‌​​​‌‍‌​‌​‌​​​

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