GUYHIRN: It's make your mind up time for a sex shop at the former Little Chef on A47

TUESDAY is decision day for the Kiss Kiss sex shop at the former Little Chef at Guyhirn near Wisbech proposed by businessman Tony Ibrahim and which has attracted nearly 200 individual protests. However in a 52 page summary prepared in advance of Fenland

TUESDAY is decision day for the 'Kiss Kiss' sex shop at the former Little Chef at Guyhirn near Wisbech proposed by businessman Tony Ibrahim and which has attracted nearly 200 individual protests.

However in a 52 page summary prepared in advance of Fenland District Council's Licensing Committee many of the objections have been declared irrelevant by the authority's most senior licensing officer.

Lynn Bagwell, in her report published this week, reveals that Cambridgeshire Police, Fenland District Council, Wisbech Town Council or any parish council has raised an objection.

Three district councillors - Kit Owen, Pam Potts and Michael Humphrey- will sit on the panel that will decide the application at a public hearing at Fenland Hall.

Mr Ibrahim, a 47 year-old businessman from Dairy Drove, Thorney, will tell the panel that the ground floor will be a lingerie shop with only the first floor given over to the sale of DVDs, videos and sex toys.

"I had a sex establishment licence before with no problem," said Mr Ibrahim who formerly ran a sex shop behind New Toll Service Station at Thorney Toll.

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His solicitor, Steve McGregor, has told objectors that the vast majority of items expected to be sold from the premises are not licensable.

"Mr Ibrahim estimates that 99 per cent of the products to be sold fall into this category," says Mr McGregor.

"This would be entirely in line with well known High Street 'sex shops', the vast majority of which do not hold licences. However there are two reasons why this application is being made. The first is to permit Mr Ibrahim to sell certain types of videos and DVDs for which a licence is required.

"The second reason is that Mr Ibrahim voluntarily wishes to submit himself and the premises to the licensing and enforcement regime of the council.

"For the reasons stated above, he need not do this. However he appreciates that a well run and regulated establishment, which is subject to the council's licensing regime, will be to everyone's benefit and remove nay suggestions that this application has any sinister or clandestine purpose as has been suggested in some of the objections we have seen."

Mr McGregor said the business would be "demand led and viable" unlike many other local businesses such as public houses and shops which have closed through lack of use.

"He knows that many of his customers will be Fenland people. It will be commercially disastrous to run premises which are offensive," said Mr McGregor.

Ms Bagwell said 68 of the 192 objectors had not provided the council with their addresses but in a detailed response she has dealt with all the objections.

Those she claims that are "not deemed to be a relevant representation" include claims the sex shop would not bring economic benefit to the Fens, fears that a Lap dancing club may follow, and fears of traffic problems on the A47.

She also dismisses claims that there is no need for a sex shop since most items are available on the internet - a point she describes as "a matter of opinion."

Ms Bagwell also says it is "speculation" whether the granting of a licence would encourage prostitutes, paedophiles and sex offenders and contribute to rising crime locally.

"No objection has been raised by Cambridgeshire Constabulary regarding potential crime and disorder activities that might occur," she says.

However Ms Bagwell believes objectors may be on firmer ground by objecting on the grounds of potential changes to the character of the area.

She also says councillors are entitled to consider issues relating to the village community "and potential detrimental impact on businesses in the vicinity."

Councillors will also be able to judge whether its proximity to Bowl2Day and Play2Day is an issue but possible later changes - including the sale of alcohol - are not relevant.

Ms Bagwell added that a key issue was the need "to balance the business requirements of the applicant against the need to protect the public.

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