Plan to shake up sex industry

SARAH HARVEY
Last updated 05:00 29/10/2012

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A plan for a shake up of the commercial sex industry which aims to address issues such as anti-social behaviour and location of sex premises will be presented to Auckland Council next year.

The Commercial Sex Industry Programme includes a review of Auckland's brothels and commercial sex premises and the rules and bylaws that regulate them.

The review will formalise a region wide rules for the industry. Currently there are different regulations from the seven legacy councils. 

Issues raised since the programme began in June last year, include location - whether there are zones the industry should be prohibited from establishing in; the health and welfare of prostitutes -  including concerns about the hygiene standards in premises; the anti-social behaviour they attract and a lack of facilities including rubbish bins in the areas they work, rules around signage on brothels and the provision of discrete parking for brothels.

The commercial sex industry has been a hot topic in Auckland in recent years with residents forcing suburban brothels from their neighbourhoods and fighting to move them away from schools.

The most notable example has been in Papatoetoe where residents and business owners have battled against street prostitution. A council-backed booklet was even distrributed across Auckland which prompted complaints to the Human Rights Commission.

Residents in Greenlane, Mt Eden, Birkenhead, Mt Albert, Remuera, Henderson and Ponsonby have protested about the establishment of suburban brothels.

The most recent fight is in swanky Auckland suburb Ponsonby, where residents are trying to get Firecats Escort Agency - which is near Richmond Rd primary school - moved. The brothel opened in November last year and had operated for months without a licence. 

It had earlier been forced from Remuera by angry neighbours who led an investigation that resulted in Auckland Council shutting it down.

The public have also been outspoken about a proposed super brothel being built on Victoria St, opposite Sky City, by Wellington's Chow brothers. 

In the agenda for the Community Safety Forum it is noted that regulation of the city sex industry was supported, council decision makers wanted to hold off on making final decisions until they saw how it fitted in with the city's combined plan. 

A draft commercial sex industry policy will be presented to the Community Safety Forum in the first half of next year. 

The plan comes as the central government's Local Government and Environment Select Committee next month releases its report into a bill which aims to give councils more power to decide where street prostiutes can work.

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