Council gives Southend circumcision clinic a month to close

The owners of a Southend home used as a 24/7 “circumcision clinic” without planning permission are to be given just one month to close it down.

Councillors on Southend City Council’s development control committee took the unusual step of calling for the clinic at 5, Westcliff Park Drive, Westcliff to cease trading within four weeks despite officers’ fears over adequate “equality and diversity” provision.

Normally enforcement notices give residents three months to rectify breaches of planning regulations.

In this case, planning officers advised a two-month notice period for the 24/7 clinic operating predominantly for the Jewish community.

However, David Garston, Conservative councillor for Prittlewell Ward, said: “If ever an enforcement action was required, it would be this one. I’d like to stop it tomorrow quite frankly.

“I always think how would I like to live next door to something like this, which is sensitive, but it’s a business within a residential area apart from anything else with no consent whatsoever and it’s wrong.”

Cllr Garston added: “It’s a business earning people a living, so there has got to be a demand for it, but it’s got to be in the right place with the right permissions and it isn’t the right place or permissions, so I support our endeavours to get rid of it as soon as we can.”

John Harland, Conservative councillor for West Shoebury, said: “We are talking about two tables and a laminated sign to be fair. It’s not really going to take them long to dismantle that. I know there is a diversity issue and people might be booked in and that’s absolutely right, but we have a duty of care.

“It’s landed on our doorstep and members feel quite strongly that this should be sooner rather than later.”

Carole Mulroney, Lib Dem councillor for Leigh Ward, said: “This is a change of use. It can stop tomorrow. It does not need to be dragged on. You serve your enforcement notice and if they appeal against it, that suspends the notice anyway, so it could continue for quite some time until the appeal is heard, so the sooner the better.”

Sam Allen, Labour councillor for Milton Ward said the business might need more time to comply. He said: “I can understand the strength of feeling by councillors but this is business. We might not like it, we might not support what they are doing there. I think giving them two months is not unreasonable.”

However, a majority of 13 councillors voted for a one-month enforcement notice.

Christine Sexton

Local Democracy Reporter