Truro's first sex shop could be closed by Christian pressure group
A CHRISTIAN pressure group could force Truro's first licensed sex shop to close.
Campaigners this week won a major victory in their bid to secure a judicial review of Cornwall Council's decision to grant the licence.
And the council has said it will not defend the legal challenge, which could see Mrs Palm Ltd shut if the case goes ahead.
City councillor Armorel Carlyon and the Christian Institute launched action in the High Court, claiming procedures were not followed correctly at the original hearing when the licence was granted in August.
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The issue is believed to centre on two key elements of the hearing. The first was the decision to disregard many of the letters of objection on the grounds that they focused on the morality of the shop.
The second was that the committee did not take into sufficient account the location of the sex shop, which is next door to school outfitters Trevails in Little Castle Street. It opened its doors for the first time at the weekend.
A council spokesman said: "The council, having considered the matter carefully, has decided not to contest the judicial review.
"How the interested party, Mrs Palm Limited, decides to proceed in these circumstances is a matter for them."
Simon Calvert, deputy director of the Christian Institute who led its campaign against the shop's licence, said: "The decision by the council not to contest the case reflects the strength of our case."
The move by Cornwall Council not to defend the licensing committee's decision surprised Mrs Palm's directors.
Owner Braxton Reynolds said: "As a licensee I would have expected Cornwall Council to have defended the position of their licensee."
The case will now go before a judge who will decide if there are enough grounds to grant the review.
If given approval then a judicial review will probably be heard late next year.
In the meantime, however, a licensing committee hearing has allowed the premises to extend its hours for late night Christmas shopping. It will now be allowed to open until 9.30pm every Wednesday – three hours later than normal under the terms of the original licence.
Councillors also agreed it could include the street number and drop the word "Ltd" from its sign but drew the line at replacing it with a website address.
Mr Reynolds said: "We decided on a low-key affair but much of the stock is on the walls.
"We've had several customers already as well as a few people coming in out of sheer curiosity."