Suburban brothels get thumbs-up

LOIS CAIRNS
Last updated 13:19 07/12/2012

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Another U-turn in the city council's deliberations on its planned brothels bylaw could see commercial sex services allowed to operate from suburban Christchurch.

A Christchurch City Council's hearing panel recommended big brothels only be allowed within the four avenues but the full council has rejected that recommendation.

Instead they have voted eight to three, with one abstention, to allow brothels to be located within specified commercial areas of the city's suburbs - as originally proposed.

The council has also directed the panel to reconsider its decision not to allow any brothels in Lyttelton.

Panel member Cr Aaron Keown argued strongly against allowing brothels into suburban areas, saying the submissions from the public showed there was little support for such a move.

But Cr Barry Corbett said he believed it would be a mistake for the council to restrict brothels to the CBD alone: "You don't restrict a legal business,'' he said.

The council has spent more than five months and more than $70,000 considering where brothels should be located.

Since 2005 there have been no controls in Christchurch on where large commercial brothels can operate, but the earthquakes severely damaged the central city, where 12 of the 13 known commercial brothels were located.

The council was concerned it had no ability to control where they could be relocated, so in June it released a draft bylaw that restricted the location of big brothels to certain commercial areas and kept them away from schools and designated "important open spaces" such as Cathedral Square and the Avon River.

Hundreds of people made submissions on the bylaw and in response to those submissions the hearings panel decided it wanted to place buffer zones around schools and residential areas and to prohibit brothels from setting up in Lyttelton.

But it later decided - in a contentious three to two vote - that it would recommend to the council that brothels be banned from all suburban areas and only allowed in the CBD, even though that decision would have represented such a departure from the original proposal that the council would have been required to reconsult with the public.

Cr Jimmy Chen, who along with councillors Tim Carter and Glenn Livingstone, voted against widening the areas in which brothels could operate from, said he was very disappointed the panel's recommendation had been ignored.

Keown, who had led the push to get brothels restricted to the CBD, abstained from the vote because he was upset with the process.

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- The Press

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