No large brothels for Lyttelton - panel

LOIS CAIRNS
Last updated 05:00 26/02/2013

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Lyttelton will stay free of large brothels, a Christchurch City Council panel decided yesterday.

The panel, tasked with deciding where brothels should be allowed to operate, ruled in September that large commercial brothels should be banned from all parts of the historic port town.

It made its decision after hearing submissions from the public on the council's proposed brothels bylaw.

As initially proposed by the council, the bylaw would allow brothels in the commercial area of Lyttelton.

However, many Lyttelton residents voiced their opposition during the public consultation period.

At the time Lyttelton Deputy Mayor Ngaire Button argued against changing the proposed bylaw because she was worried if there was no provision for brothels to be set up in Lyttelton's commercial zone, commercial sex services would end up being provided in the residential area. She was outvoted four to one.

However, when the panel's recommendations were brought before the full council late last year, several councillors voiced unease over the decision to ban brothels from Lyttelton. The panel was instructed to review its decision.

Paula Smith, chairwoman of the Lyttelton-Mt Herbert Community Board, told the reconvened panel yesterday the community was upset the council had not accepted its recommendations and the matter was again up for debate.

"There is nowhere in Lyttelton where licensed brothels would be acceptable to our community," Smith said.

Lyttelton Residents' Association spokesman Ken Maynard said a disproportionately large area in Lyttelton had been earmarked in the draft bylaw as appropriate for brothels.

This had left many in the community wondering whether some on the city council wanted the port town to become Christchurch's red-light district.

Lyttelton residents were totally opposed to big commercial brothels being allowed to set up there. They felt that as there were already some small owner-operated brothels in Lyttelton there was no need to provide any further areas for commercial sexual services.

"We believe the relatively low-key way in which the oldest profession operates is sufficient in our town," Maynard said.

"Be bold and do what the people want," he urged.

Cr Glenn Livingstone said he could see no good reason to zone for commercial brothels in Lyttelton and moved the panel confirm its earlier decision.

"For me this is about listening to the community," he said.

"If we do provide for commercial brothels in Lyttelton, I think we would open ourselves to a legal challenge by the community."

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Button was again outvoted, with the panel voting three to one to recommend again the council make no provisions for a brothel area in Lyttelton.

- © Fairfax NZ News

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