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Sleaze re-appears in Kings Cross

October 28, 2011

The owners of Soho Books at 9 Caledonian Road have changed their premises to look just like a sex shop again.

Once known as “Prowler”, the owners sought a license in early 2007 and a vigorous campaign by local residents and Councillors forced a strict condition on its license. This required it to look like a regular book shop – all the sex related material was at the rear of the premises and its owners were prohibited from displaying any signs.

Over the intervening years the owners have periodically tried to “bend” this rule but regular enforcement by Islington Council required them to comply.

All this changed a fortnight ago. Now the shop has frosted windows with advertisements for sex materials and products like Viagra and poppers. The front door is permanently open with hanging strips of plastic – just like a “classic” 1970s-style porn shop in a red light district.

Incredibly it appears that Council licensing officers recently nodded-through a revision to the license to allow this change.

Cllr Paul Convery says “Local residents are infuriated that this very significant change to the license conditions was made without public consultation. Even local Councillors were not alerted to this major change. We are investigating how this has happened and what can be done to reinstate the original condition.”

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. sean permalink
    October 28, 2011 6:19 pm

    well they could start by getting rid of the A frame sign blocking the pavement for a start!

  2. Andy permalink
    October 30, 2011 12:08 pm

    It is beyond belief that the officers (ie civil servants) were able to “nod through” a change to the licence going against policies that councillors like Cllr Paul Convery (ie local politicians) had a made for this shop.

    Do these council officers have free-reign to do what they like at Islington Council, regardless of decisions made in the democratic chamber?

    In Islington is it really the officers who are running the locality, not those we elect, like Paul who is doing everything he can (through the normal democratic channels) to make Kings Cross a normal place to live, and not a red light district?

    The Southern end of the Caledonian Road has in the last six months lost two businesses that benefited local residents: a key cutters/dry cleaners and a barbers. Those who ran these businesses both told me they felt unsupported by the council who had upped their business rates, making life very difficult for them.

    Meanwhile that same council has helped a sex shop to improve its business by letting it advertise more blatantly, going against earlier licensing rules.

    Almost a year ago to the day, I attended a the Safer Islington Debate, hosted by the leader of Islington Council and other elected councillors, who all talked about how they wanted to clean up Kings Cross, make it a desirable place to live, and stop it being a red light district.

    These local politicians can only do this if they can keep under control their officers, whom they employ and keep in jobs, and direct them to carry out democratically agreed policies, rather than letting these officers do what they like, indulging their own desires for the neighbourhood.

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