Sex shop bids to open next door to youth charity in Liverpool city centre

“This is not an appropriate site for a sex shop”

An application has been made for a new sex shop to operate in Liverpool city centre next to a charity that supports children and young people.

Documents made public by Liverpool Council have revealed that a proposal for a sex shop licence has been put forward to the local authority to operate at 69A Hanover Street, in the Bling building, by MF Trading Limited. The Prescot-based firm, whose sole director is named as Ben Hughes, is seeking a licence to operate seven days a week, from 9am to 10pm Monday to Saturday and 10am to 6pm on Sundays and Bank Holidays.

In a statement alongside the application, Mr Hughes said: “I thought it important to add that the premises we are applying for is in the basement of the building known as 69 Hanover Street. The location itself (69A Hanover Street) is discreet and not visible at the street level.

“The basement and its contents will not be visible to passing footfall at street level. Furthermore, the premises will have a controlled entrance in the basement, only permitting those over the age of 18 years entry.”

Merseyside Police have made no comments upon or objections to the application. While Liverpool Council does not pass moral judgement, it requires a licence for venues where there are 18 rated films being sold or a premises being “used for a business which consists to a ‘significant degree’ of selling, hiring, exchanging, lending, displaying or demonstrating ‘sex articles’ or other things intended for use in connection with, or for the purpose of stimulating or encouraging sexual activity or acts of force or restraint which are associated with sexual activity.”

The application has been met with opposition from Merseyside Youth Association (MYA) which occupies the unit next door on Hanover Street. In a letter to the local authority’s licensing committee, Gill Bainbridge, MYA chief executive said the charity had been located on Hanover Street for the past 22 years and felt the basement next door was not “an appropriate site for a sex shop.”

Ms Bainbridge wrote: “Hundreds of young people access our Hanover Street premises on a daily basis, including our counselling rooms, dance floor, recording studios and group work space. We also facilitate a youth employment hub, with Job Centre Plus on our ground floor.

“We income generate from hire of our rooms to external providers such as training agencies and other charities. We also house a small cafe run by Malmo.

“We object to the sex shop licence, primarily because of the vulnerability of our young people, the possible triggers to past trauma and exposure that our young people will have to the sex industry. Even for non-traumatised young people, exposure to a sex shop is age inappropriate and is at odds with our equality and diversity values.

“It may also impact on our income generation as it may adversely affect our key stakeholders, who may decide it is no longer a suitable venue to bring their service users. It may also put off our cafe customers.

“This is not an appropriate site for a sex shop, we would request that this application be rejected on the grounds states above.” The application will be considered by the eight-person licensing committee when it meets at Liverpool Town Hall next week.