A BODY piercing specialist has criticised Wyre Forest District Council for having the highest licensing fees in the area which she believes could put business owners off.

Emma Thresh, of Urban Body in Coventry Street in Kidderminster, had to pay £362 to register her personal and premises licence, while in Bromsgrove, registration costs £188 and in Redditch, applications are just £72.50.

Mrs Thresh, who is waiting for the licence for her business to come through, said she was "gobsmacked" when she heard how high the district council's fees were compared to other councils across Worcestershire and the West Midlands.

Conservative councillor Marcus Hart, the district council's cabinet member with responsibility for environmental services, said the council does not make a profit from the registration service and the fees are "reasonable".

Mrs Thresh, 44, said: "How do Wyre Forest justify the price? I had to borrow the money as I had only put aside £100 for the licence.

"I used to have a salon in Stourport Road, I had that salon for years and we used to do body piercing there. We had environmental health come out and it was around £70 for the licence. This is why I was so gobsmacked with the fees.

"The lady from the licensing department even said she'd thought she'd got the figures wrong. The councils should be singing from the same hymn sheet."

In Wychavon, registration for cosmetic piercing costs £73, in Wolverhampton it costs £95 and in Telford and Wrekin, the charge is £172.

The only council with a similar fee is Worcester City, charging £350 for the licence registration.

Mr Hart said: "The fees charged for registration of persons and premises for the purposes of tattooing, cosmetic piercing and electrolysis under the Local Government Act 1982 are set by the council in accordance with section 15(6).

"This allows the council to charge such reasonable fees as they may determine for registration under this section. We don’t make a profit for this service as it’s done on a cost recovery basis.

"The fees have been determined as reasonable and what other local authority's charge is a matter for individual authorities. We are very much a district that is ‘open for business’ and our intention is not to put off any business wishing to come into Wyre Forest.”