Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Massage Parlours 'Like New Red-Light District' Shopfronts Are Suggestive of Sex Trade, Say Earl's Court Residents

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Massage Parlours 'Like New Red-Light District' Shopfronts Are Suggestive of Sex Trade, Say Earl's Court Residents

Article excerpt

Byline: Barney Davis and Benedict Moore-Bridger

A PROLIFERATION of spas advertising sexually suggestive services is turning Earl's Court into a "red-light district", residents claim.

Neighbours in Earl's Court Gardens, where terraced homes sell for more than PS4.5 million, have hit out over the area's "creeping seediness".

The claims come in response to applications from the owners of the Ping Wellness Centre and Moon Flower Spa to renew their licences as massage parlours. Kensington and Chelsea council is now investigating complaints that the establishments are not appropriate in a residential area which is popular with families.

Resident Andrew Cartlidge, a financial director, blasted what he said were "lurid" shopfronts "highly suggestive of the sex trade", in a letter to the council's licensing committee.

He claimed a neighbour had been offered services of a sexual nature when visiting an unnamed local spa for a massage after a run, stating: "'Four-hand massage' and 'six-hand table shower' are amongst the services prominently proclaimed as being on offer."

He added: "The streaming of moving visual images onto a screen in the window of semi-naked people undergoing 'therapies' is also highly suggestive.

"It is entirely inappropriate that such services should be so luridly advertised on a residential street."

In another complaint to the council, banking analyst Gildas Surry said he had walked past one spa with two of his children and "was at a loss when asked to explain the nudity of the persons on the TV screens, not to mention the suggestive moves by the pair of hands caressing the body".

A third resident wrote: "One council ward and its transient population could not possibly provide the amount of legitimate health massage or sports therapy business to support the number of establishments that have sprung up. The mushrooming of these businesses which are presumably highly profitable is driving up rents for legitimate businesses, forcing them from the area. …

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