Birmingham & Black Country

Bubbles massage parlour in Smethwick ordered to close

The Bubbles Club
Image caption A stop notice was fixed to the door of Bubbles on 8 December before the enforcement notice

A private massage parlour on the site of a former brothel has been ordered to close for breaching planning rules.

Sandwell Council served an enforcement notice on Bubbles Club, in Smethwick, for operating outside the building's consent for a health and beauty salon.

A brothel called Cuddles once used the same building on the Hagley Road before police raided it in 2005.

On its website, Bubbles said its rooms were for "companionship and to spend time with hostesses only".

'Totally unfounded'

Sandwell Council said the address had had permission for a health and beauty salon since 1982, but the current owners had no consent for a private massage parlour.

Planning officers said the "unauthorised use" caused harm to residents, who complained of "comings and goings in the early hours of the morning".

Image copyright Facebook
Image caption Bubbles' Facebook page featured photographs of women in underwear

West Midlands Police had raised concerns with the council based on "the history of the address and the criminality involved previously", said a force spokeswoman.

After issuing the enforcement notice, the council received a retrospective planning application to change the building's use. In a supporting letter, design consultant Terry Poultney wrote claims the use caused serious harm to nearby residents were "totally unfounded and without any supporting factual evidence".

Labour ward councillor Steve Eling said the notice was not to do with the club's 11:00 to 6:00 opening hours but the business acting outside its planning consent.

Bubbles has not responded to questions from the BBC but the business's Facebook page said it had "slight issues with planning permission, but would be open again soon".

The owners can appeal against the council notice before 2 February.

Police raided Cuddles in September 2005 and owner Carl Pritchett, from Dudley, was sentenced the following July to two years in jail for running a brothel. He was jailed for a further seven years in 2010 after failing to repay £2m in illegal gains.

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