Another unlicensed Soho sex shop on Walkers Court has been warned to cease trading as part of Westminster Council's long-running campaign against unlicensed shops selling hardcore DVDs.
Westminster Council allows a limited number of vendors of
adult DVDs, magazines and sex toys to trade in the West End, but such businesses are obliged to pay extortionate licence fees that cost about £ 30,000 per year.
Enterprise chief Councillor Brian Connell said
licensing council staff were working hard to put the remaining unlicensed sex shops in the streets and alleyways around Brewer Street out of business. Connell told the West End Extra:
In my view, cleaning up the
worst excesses of this trade is good for London and good for Westminster.
It's what we said we would do prior to the Olympics, so it is delivering on a commitment, and it also has the effect of making sure that legitimate
businesses don't run the risk of losing market share.
In 1999 Soho had 61 unlicensed sex shops. It now has nine, and of these, the courts are set to hear three closure hearings in the coming year. The council's declared intention is
for no unlicensed sex DVD shops to remain operational by the start of the Olympics.
Islington's last unlicensed sex shop has shut after a council raid found unclassified DVDs on the premises. Trading SubStandards and licensing staff visited DJD Retail, trading as Bookshop, at York Way in May last year, and seized DVDs and
The sole officer of the company, David Darbo, pleaded guilty to eight offences under the Video Recordings Act 1984 at Highbury Magistrates' Court last month.
Darbo was fined £ 3,150 and ordered to
pay £ 1,449 costs. DJD Retail admitted eight offences and was fined £ 100 for one offence.
A licensed adult shop has won the right to display mannequins in the window, as long as the display doesn't involve anything naughty.
Adult World in Islington Green, Islington, has also been given permission to stay open until 10pm rather
than 8pm, following the new rulings made at an Islington Council meeting on Wednesday.
Owner Gary Best asked the council for permission to remove the opaque film on the windows which prevented passers-by from seeing in. Best assured Islington
Council that Adult World sells high-quality underwear on the ground floor, while the basement, where customers can buy films, is the only licensed area of the store.
The licensing hours, which Adult World also inherited from Clone Zone,
restricted trading until 8pm Monday to Saturdays. Best wanted the shop to be allowed to stay open until 10pm and to trade on Sundays.
Two residents and local Labour councillor Martin Klute wrote letters of objection to the council about the bid
to change the licence.
But Best said: We've had a couple of complaints and have taken 18 DVDs which are for sale in Virgin and HMV away. We've taken away business to make people happy. We have to ask people to leave the shop at 8pm because
they often come in after work, which is where our request for longer hours comes from.
Councillor Tracy Ismail (Liberal Democrat), who chaired the meeting, said: We could add a condition to the licence that only clothing is displayed in
the window - no mannequins with whips in their hands or anything naughty - and no kind of 'attachments'.
The committee agreed that Adult World could stay open from 10am to 10pm Mondays to Saturdays, and from noon until 8pm on Sundays
including bank holidays, but excluding Christmas Day, Good Friday and Easter Sunday.
They also agreed that the opaque film on the window could be removed, and window displays permitted, as long as they involve non-adult merchandise only. General
goods must be located at the front of the shop, with the adult area and the general goods areas clearly defined.