'Secret brothels' must be flushed out

HARROGATE'S MP is leading calls for massage parlours to be licensed – so that "secret brothels" can be flushed out of the town.

Police raided a massage parlour running out of a quiet street on Forest Lane last week and found a menu offering a variety of sexual services in exchange for cash.

Harrogate and Knaresborough MP Phil Willis said the council should ask massage parlours to apply for licences to spell out exactly what services they are allowed to offer.

He added: "We do have a growing and active beauty therapy industry in Harrogate which is very legitimate and should be encouraged. I am very concerned that they shouldn't be tarnished by one or two rogue operators who are working as brothels."

Harrogate Police backed Mr Willis' calls for regulation – but say they are not aware of any other brothels operating in the town. They say there has been no repeat of the streams of men who visited 210 Forest Lane in the months before the raid.

Coun Reg Marsh, who lived a few doors away from the massage parlour, said he would be consulting lawyers at the Council to see what they could do.

He said: "If it can happen on Forest Lane it can happen anywhere in the district – so we have got to try and ensure that we do have controlled licences so we can shut these places down if they are working illegally. It is a ludicrous situation when authorities have their hands tied and things continue as they were at Forest Lane."

At the moment, massage parlours in Harrogate do not need a special licence, although they need permission to run as a business.

However Bob Nash, head of licensing for Harrogate Council, said he thought licensing legislation was already sufficient to cope with the problem: "We can already close down anything that becomes ill repute. On Forest Lane this massage parlour was operating with no licence. These kind of establishments would hope to get away with it without anyone reporting it."

mark.douglas@ypn.co.uk