SWINDON Council will talk to other councils before deciding whether to open the door to sex shops which can stock currently banned hardcore material.

The council's licensing committee met yesterday at the Civic Offices to give the thumbs up to the consultation exercise almost a year after agreeing to let the public have their say on the licensing laws.

Council officers will consult community groups and fellow authorities in the south west before reporting back to the committee in three months' time.

Coun Michael Dickinson (Con, Central) was one of several councillors to support the consultation but questioned the time it has taken to look at the new licensing laws.

"I am very happy to support this consultation," he said. "I think this is something that any mature council would consider. I don't understand why Swindon Council is behind others and why it has not allowed people of the consenting age of 18 to buy this kind of material."

Coun Doreen Dart (Con, Blunsdon) was also in support of the consultation. She said: "I agree with the idea of consultation because it will give us a feeling of total transparency."

And Labour councillor David Glaholm (Penhill) urged the committee to seek advice from other authorities that have adopted the legislation.

Swindon currently has two sex shops the Exchange Bookshop, in Gorse Hill, and the Private Shop, in Old Town with both shops unable to stock R18 videos or DVDs, which is classed as explicit material.

The cost of the consultation is estimated at £700.

Mick Bushell, a director of DOM Promotions, which opened the first licensed sex shop in the Welsh valleys, and who hopes to open a sex shop in Swindon, welcomed the decision. But he was disappointed councillors were not willing to include Caerphilly Council in the consultation.

He said: "It seems ridiculous they are not prepared to consult the council who already has these shops.

"I think the consultation is a complete waste of time and money because if they adopted the legislation they would have all the power.

"But at least we have some democratic councillors who seem prepared to take the issue forward."

Peter Wannell, who owns The Exchange Bookshop, in Cricklade Road, Gorse Hill, said he was pleased the consultation got the go-ahead.

"As far as I'm concerned it's heading in the right direction," he said. "At last something is happening.

"One of the concerns is that shops will start opening up all over the place but Swindon could follow Reading and have a two-licence policy.

"That way, other shops cannot open up until one closes down."