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Council successfully prosecutes illegal brothel owner

Thursday 28 February 2013

Council successfully prosecutes illegal brothel owner

The Christchurch City Council has successfully prosecuted the owner of an illegal brothel that was located in Churchill Street, Christchurch.

The Environment Court today ruled in favour of the Council, finding the brothel owner guilty of breaching the Resource Management Act 1991 and also the Christchurch City Plan. The Court imposed a fine of $8000 and the brothel in no longer operating from this site.

Planning Committee Chair Councillor Sue Wells says the prosecution is a pleasing result, particularly for the residents living nearby the brothel.

“Neighbours were obviously very concerned about the activity the brothel was generating in the street. We want Christchurch residents to know that if businesses are found to be in clear breach of the Christchurch City Plan, and the business owners do not co-operate with us to become compliant, we will take action. We would also really like to thank the nearby residents who helped us with information and who were patient throughout the investigation and Court proceedings”

The brothel, which had four off-site employees, breached several rules in the city plan including using more of a building than was permitted for the operation of the business; operating for more hours than allowed in a week and at times not permitted; generating too much traffic and for not having enough parking spaces.

The Council first become aware of the brothel operating in a residential area after a complaint from a neighbour several months ago. Staff had ongoing contact with the owner since that time advising them to either apply for consent to operate the brothel under the Resource Management Act; to cease operating the brothel or to comply with the Christchurch City Plan.

When no action was taken by the owner, the Council issued two infringement notices and then an abatement notice, requiring them to comply with the provisions of the Resource Management Act.

Councillor Wells says the brothel owner had shown a complete disregard for the city plan and legislation by ignoring the infringement notices and abatement notice and this was not acceptable.

“The city plan is there for a reason – to balance the needs of all the groups that make up our city, from residents through to business owners.”

Whilst the Council does not have the power to completely ban brothels, it does have the ability to regulate the location of them through the Prostitution Reform Act. The Council is developing a proposed bylaw that would restrict the location of brothels and control signage advertising commercial sexual services.

ENDS

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