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Westminster targets drug-dealing and anti-social behaviour in Soho

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A central London council is to shut down the remaining unlicensed sex shops in Soho.

Westminster City Council said it is embarking on “a massive drive” to clean up the area, which is home to many of London’s gay bars.

A recent “purge” of Soho saw the closure of 51 sex shops and the “complete eradication” of clip joints, which used loopholes in the law to fleece mainly male customers of hundreds of pounds after luring them in with false promises of sex shows.

Also on the council’s hitlist are the 100 Soho-based food outlets with one or zero stars “Scores on the Doors” ratings, illegal hotdog trolleys and street litter.

Council leader Colin Barrow said:

“There is no place in a civilised society for the drug-dealing and anti-social behaviour which has for too long been the scourge of Soho.

“The idea that the seedy side of Soho is a magnet for tourists and creative trade is a flawed one.

“It may well be a curiosity, but there is no compelling economic argument for this.

“This is not about sanitising the area, but simply making it fit for a modern capital city where people are more aware than ever of the true costs of prostitution and drugs to society.

“Soho is a hub for creative industries which generate nearly £15billion a year for the local economy, and the area boasts a flourishing entertainment and restaurant sector.

“By far the vast majority of visitors would never venture any where near the seedy premises which give it a bad name, and the view that the sex and drugs are part of its ‘charm’ is simply wrong.”

The council also intends to install an extra 1,000 litter bins across the borough, reversing a trend which saw many bins removed following a wave of attacks on the capital by the IRA in the 1970s and 1980s.

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