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Sex Establishments Licence

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Sex Establishments are required to be licenced by the County Borough Council under the Local Government (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1982.

A sex establishment can either be a Sex Shop, or a Sex Cinema which may require a premises licence under the Licensing Act 2003.

A sex shop is a premises used for business which consists to a significant degree of selling sex articles. A sex cinema is any premises used to a significant degree for showing of films which are concerned primarily with, or relate to, or are intended to stimulate sexual activity.

The law defines the way in which an application is made, which include advertising notice of the application in the local press and displaying a notice outside the premises for a specific time period to give passers by the opportunity to comment by a statutory closing date.

When considering an application for a sex establishment licence the County Borough Council may only use the following criteria:

  • The suitability of the Applicant
  • Whether the person applying is a "front" person for someone else
  • The location and situation of the premises in relation to other premises in the area
  • Whether the number of sex establishments in that locality is equal to, or exceeds the number which the Council considers appropriate for the area

Your Right of Appeal

  • Any person aggrieved by a refusal to be granted a licence or by any condition to which a licence is subject may appeal to the Magistrates' Court.
  • An appeal against a decision made at the Magistrates Court may be appealed at the Crown Court but the decision of the Crown Court is final.

Offences and Penalties

  • Anybody who operates a sex establishment without a licence or fails to comply with licence conditions or admits persons under the age of 18 is committing an offence.
  • Penalties upon conviction can range from £1,000 to £20,000.

Sex Encounter Venues

The Police and Crime Bill 2009 reached Royal Assent on 12th November 2009, Clause 26 of this Act makes provision about the reclassification of lap dancing and similar venues as ‘sex encounter establishments.

The Bill introduced a new category of sex establishment under Schedule 3 of the Local Government (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1982 called a ‘sex encounter venue’. This new category covers venues that provide ‘relevant entertainment’.

‘Relevant entertainment’ is defined as any live performance or display of nudity that ignoring financial gain, it must be reasonably assumed to be solely and principally for the purpose of sexually stimulating any member of the audience (whether verbal or other means).


Premises providing ‘relevant entertainment’ on a limited number of occasions a year will not need to apply for a licence even if the Council adopt the provisions. This must be no more than 11 occasions in a 12 month period with a period of at least 1 month between each occasion.


The need to obtain a licence will only arise if the Local Authority formally adopts provisions contained in the 1982 Act. On 23rd October 2002 Merthyr Tydfil County Borough Council adopted Schedule 3 of the 1982 Act to licence sex shops and sex cinemas, however the authority is still required to readopt the provisions to start the process of licensing lap dancing clubs.


NOTICE IS HEREBY GIVEN that on the 8th December 2010 Merthyr Tydfil County Borough Council passed a resolution in exercise of their powers under Part 2 of the Local Government (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1982, to adopt Schedule 3 of the Act, as amended by Section 27 of the Policing and Crime Act 2009, to extend the regulation of sex establishments, which are sex shops and sex cinemas, to include sexual entertainment venues. This resolution shall come into effect on the 1st February 2011.

The general effect is that anyone wishing to operate a sex shop, sex cinema or sexual entertainment venue within the County Borough of Merthyr Tydfil is required to obtain a licence from Merthyr Tydfil County Borough Council.