At an extraordinary meeting of the Southend Borough Licensing Panel this evening, councillors voted 24 to 8 in favour of creating a regulated and legal RED LIGHT DISTRICT within walking distance of Southend Town Centre.
According to a statement from the SBLP, the ‘pilot scheme’ will cover a 500m stretch of Hamlet Court Road in Westcliff On Sea, and it is hoped that the plans will bring economic and social benefits to an area with a number of ‘closed shops’ and vacant retail units.
SBLP lead designator Cllr Charles Bukhak said: ‘We are leading the way in the United Kingdom when it comes to providing a legal and safe zone for prostitutes and other sex workers to operate in.’
‘From the London Road junction to the section just before Westcliff Station, a limited amount of controlled and regulated premises offering adult services will be permitted.’
‘The guidelines will be incredibly strict, and any participating premises will be required to install greyed-out windows – a small amount of appropriate signage will be permitted between the hours of 9pm and 6am.’
‘The residents of Westcliff have been demanding action in Hamlet Court Road for a number of years, and this administration is now delighted to be able to deliver on our promises. We predict that hundreds of jobs will be created.’
We asked Cllr Bukhak for more details about how the safety of customers would be protected.
He said: ‘We have adopted the same model for compliance as our food and hygiene teams. Premises aside, all registered sex workers will need to renew their licenses every six months.’
‘License renewals will include ‘scores on the doors’ system where workers’ hygiene and bacterial safety levels will be assessed through a number of different swabs and samples.’
‘In a similar manner to catering outlets, a top score will only be given when workers are in an immaculate condition and all of the relevant paperwork is completed.’
Derek Spluge has been living in neighbouring Ditton Court Road for a number of years, and he admitted that he was ‘excited’ about the plans.
He said: ‘When our local councillor said that Hamlet Court Road was about to undergo a ‘massive economic regeneration,’ I honestly thought that it would mean five Polish sausage wholesalers and a Costcutter.’
‘These plans sound much better though, and it should bring trade from all over Essex and beyond.’