Baby circumcision clinic told to close by council

Homeowners who are using their property to run a baby circumcision clinic without planning permission, have been given a month to close it down.

Baby Circumcision Essex, which is based in Westcliff-on-Sea, states on its website that it serves "all communities including Jewish, African, Nigerian".

At a Southend-on-Sea City Council development control meeting on Wednesday, 13 councillors voted for a one month enforcement notice to close the clinic down at 5 Westcliff Park Drive.

A spokesman for the homeowners said use of the property for circumcision "has stopped" but also claimed "what was presented to the committee didn’t reflect what happens".

He said there were "maybe one or two visits a day, several times a week" and "no comings and goings that disturb neighbours".

Usually enforcement notices give residents a three-month notice period to rectify breaches of the planning regulations, however, in this case planning officers advised a two-month notice period, which councillors reduced further to just four weeks.

David Garston, Conservative councillor, said: "If ever an enforcement action was required, it would be this one. I'd like to stop it tomorrow quite frankly.

"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, 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, Liberal Democrat councillor, hopes the clinic will be closed "the sooner the better".

"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."

Sam Allen, Labour councillor, 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."

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