Rotherham’s most senior councillors are considering a move to tighten the rules around the way sex industry establishments operate in the town – with the intention of safeguarding communities and those who work in the trade.
New proposals will go before the council’s ruling Cabinet later this month, with the expectation of new controls on where establishments such as sex shops and strip clubs can operate.
A second set of rules would try to provide greater protection for the workers in that trade, who often operate as self-employed staff but lacking the freedoms that status normally brings.
Councillors will decide whether to go ahead with plans to gather opinions from residents before decisions are made on if and how to proceed with its plans.
Councillors want to know if there is an appetite within the community for greater powers to control where sex-based industries trade, such as near schools, play areas, leisure facilities, places of worship and women’s refuges.
The aim would be to prevent them trading in areas where they were seen to have a negative effect on the area.
At the same time, the council has concerns about the welfare of workers, who it is said, can be subject to fines from their employers for minor work-related infringements and are required to pay ‘house fees’ on top of a percentage of their takings deducted by the employer.
According to the council, adequate regulations to prevent workers from being exploited do not exist at present.
Coun Emma Hoddinott, Cabinet member for Community Safety and chair of the Safer Rotherham Partnership, said: “We need to look again at this particular industry in Rotherham.
“It is time we reviewed the licensing around sex establishments, ensuring we have the best interests of our communities at heart when applications are heard. This is why we want to seek residents’ views.”