News

Illegal brothel activity alleged in Shepparton

By Liz Mellino

A spokesman for the city’s only licensed brothel says illegal sex activity is continuing in Shepparton, despite being brought to the attention of Greater Shepparton City Council and police.

Apollo 45 spokesman William Albon claims the council continues to ‘‘sit on their hands’’ and ‘‘refuse to act’’ on the illegal activity he alleges he brought to its attention almost a year ago.

The News initially reported on allegations of illegal brothel activity near a Wilmot Rd school last month, with Mr Albon in contact with police and the council at the time.

Police and the council informed the News last month they were in the process of investigating the claims.

Mr Albon believes the alleged illegal activity is occurring at a new address in Paterson Rd, with the News shown recent text message conversations from a woman asking him to attend the address to receive sexual services.

‘‘Council has a statutory, mandatory if you like, obligation to protect the integrity of their planning scheme — allowing illegal brothels is not protecting the integrity of the planning scheme,’’ he said.

The News understands Mr Albon submitted a set of questions to the council regarding the illegal brothel activity at last month’s ordinary council meeting, but was told they were submitted outside of the required deadline.

Mr Albon claims he then asked for them to be submitted at this month’s council meeting, but was informed the questions were not accepted as they were offensive and related to a matter outside the duties, functions and powers of the council.

‘‘We then posed a second set of questions about the illegal brothels and the council said the questions did not suit them, and they shut down the debate ... so no open debate, no questions, no discussions,’’ Mr Albon said.

Council’s acting chief executive Chris Teitzel said they had a number of guidelines under local law that made a question allowable to be read out at public question time.

Mr Teitzel said there were a number of issues surrounding Mr Albon’s questions, saying he submitted more than the maximum two questions and that the questions were deemed to be objectionable and defamatory.

‘‘He was given the opportunity to reword the questions in such a way they weren’t defamatory and objectionable but he chose not to do that. If he submits new questions by the required deadline for next month’s council meeting they would be assessed against both guidelines and local laws,’’ he said.

Mr Teitzel said the council agreed police had broader powers of investigation and enforcement than it did, and it considered the issue of illegal brothel activity a police matter.

Shepparton police Inspector Troy Hargadon said they had received information of illegal activity in the sex industry and they would continue to work with stakeholders, including the State Liquor Unit and Sex Industry Coordination Unit, to address the issues.