Licensing fees for Derby's sex shops are reduced
DERBY'S two sex shops could be able to claim back thousands of pounds in licensing fees from the city council, after 15 other authorities were successfully challenged in court for charging excessively.
The case was led by Westminster City Council, which governs Soho, an area of London famous for its sex industry.
At the city council's general licensing committee meeting last night, councillors voted on the latest changes to the authority's licensing fees and charges for 2013-14.
Among the changes was a huge decrease in licensing fees for sex shops, reflecting what had happened in the Westminster case.
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Instead of charging £5,700 for a new licence and £4,380 for a renewal, the authority will charge a rate of £495 for both.
A report on the matter added that "businesses affected may also be able to claim back from the council the fees paid that were in excess of the 'reasonable' cost for a period of up to six years".
Only Councillor Frank Harwood voted against the changes, entirely on the basis of the sex shop fee changes.
He said: "I think we need to do some more homework on this and speak to other councils to find out what they are doing about it."
Licensing fees, by law, should be set at a level that reflects the actual cost of administering the licensing process.
But the council's report says that "contrary to legal advice, many authorities took the opportunity to set high fee levels as there is no mandatory limit".
It adds that this approach was also taken by the Derby council's licensing committee, although its fees remain lower than most other city authorities.
The report adds: "Implementing the proposed changes will mean substantially reducing the current fees for the two sex shops that are licensed.
"In view of the significant difference in the fee levels, the department's income targets for licensing will need to be reduced."
For most licences the amount charged will go up by 3% to reflect "inflation".