Row breaks out over city centre sex shop licence renewal

A family-run sex shop in Liverpool city centre is bidding to retain its licence to trade amid objections from a neighbouring youth charity.

After opening up their third store in November 2022, the team behind Scandals on Hanover Street has made an application to Liverpool Council to renew its terms to act as a sex shop. Under its policy, the city council issues 12-month licences for sex establishments, with Scandals renewing ahead of schedule.

The application has been met with anger from Merseyside Youth Association (MYA) which is situated next door.

The application by Scandals, owned and operated by Ben Hughes and Catherine Kershaw, does not seek to make any changes to its current agreement with Liverpool Council – namely to open from 9am to 10pm Monday to Saturday and from 10am to 6pm on Sundays and Bank Holidays. The business is located in the basement of the Bling Building at 69 Hanover Street.

According to the council’s own assessment of the shop, the basement and its contents will not be visible to passing footfall at street level. It added, “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 renewal application.

This was not suitable for MYA who have lodged their discontent with the proposals to the local authority. In a letter to the general purposes licensing committee, which will consider the application next week, MYA said since its initial objection almost two years ago, they had evidence Scandals had breached the terms of its licence in relation to the entrance of the store.

This included a perceived lack of discretion and the front door being wedged open at street level. Concerns were also raised about posters and pop-up banners outside.

Gill Bainbridge, MYA chief executive, said, “I understand that this shop has a market and has a place, but it is not next door to a youth centre.”

In a statement, seen by the LDRS and handed to Liverpool Council, Scandals said it had received no further objections since it opened and had served more than 5,000 customers during that time. The business said concerns about the door being open was “flawed” given the need to provide ease of access for disabled customers and a precedent set by previous occupiers.

The business said no issues had been raised by council officials or Merseyside Fire and Rescue Service regarding the door. The statement said attempts by MYA to “insinuate” the shop poses a threat to children was “deeply troubling” and sought to have further dialogue regarding “beneficial solutions that priortise the protection of young people”.

The application will be considered at Liverpool Town Hall on Wednesday, May 29.

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