Councillors must see sex-shop for themselves

IT was reassuring to read in the recent Hunts Post that, when considering the Cocktails Ltd application for a sex-shop at Sawtry, the chairman of the licensing committee will want “more background from the company”.

IT was reassuring to read in the recent Hunts Post that, when considering the Cocktails Ltd application for a sex-shop at Sawtry, Councillor Terry Bell, chairman of the licensing committee, will want “more background from the company”, although it was disturbing that he added: “We should get that at the hearing.” This suggested he is happy to wait until then.

He also said that, knowing of the disgruntlement of local residents: “I have not yet been out on a visit, so I haven’t taken a view. The public can be assured we shall take the right decision.”

So a visit to the Sawtry site before the hearing will allow him to have taken a view about its suitability for a sex-shop – but only during the hearing will his committee get more background from the company – but then only the details that Cocktails’ legal team may or may not choose to provide at that time.

This surely isn’t fair? I was so troubled by this ambiguity that I wrote to Cllr Bell, respectfully suggesting that before his visit to Sawtry he and his committee should make an (unannounced) visit to the Cocktails’ sex-shop only 30 minutes away north on the A1.

This would prove that Cocktails’ claim that “this site is almost identical to that at Sawtry” is completely wrong – for it can be accessed only from the A1, there is no pedestrian access and it’s well away from residential areas.

At Sawtry, access is not restricted to A1(M) traffic. It’s very close to a major residential area, schools, churches etc, and any pedestrian – young or old – can easily walk there.

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By visiting one of these openly pornographic sex-shops they would certainly obtain the “background” information they need about Cocktails and the products this type of sex shop openly advertises – an “adult films department with over 3,000 XXX-rated hardcore DVDs covering every subject imaginable – too strong to be sold on the internet”. They could assess Cocktails’ extra application “to be allowed to show trailers from these DVDs on a large plasma screen”; browse among the “good range of XXX books and magazines – none of which are sealed” and judge how vigilantly their “under-18” policy is operated.

Let’s just hope that Cllr Bell’s committee has been persuaded to “take a view” of Cocktails before the hearing. Only by visiting can they be convinced that this type of sex-shop would adversely change the character of anyone’s doorstep – theirs, ours or anywhere else in Huntingdonshire.

Around 1,500 Sawtry people have already objected – the message is clear: it is not wanted here.


The Maltings