INVESTIGATIONS into the sex trade in Cheltenham will continue even though it is not considered " a huge problem".
Borough council chiefs held a meeting behind closed doors this week, hearing the views of police and child protection services on the scale of prostitution and people trafficking in the area.
The Echo was told not to attend, but it is understood speakers advised members the scale of the problem was no worse than other towns or cities.
The assessment contradicts a host of evidence and recent police concerns prostitution was rife in the town.
Councillor Barbara Driver (C, Lansdown), who has led calls for the review, said the committee would not be deterred from continuing its research.
"Our plan has always been to interview as many people as possible who are involved in the sex trade to look at it from different perspectives," she said.
"From the feedback we have had, it appears Cheltenham does not have a huge problem compared to other towns.
"But that's not to say we don't have a problem at all.
"We are determined to continue this work and find out how, if possible, we can reach people affected by exploitation linked to brothels."
Cheltenham has endured persistent problems with sex crime in the past.
It was at the centre of a nationwide police swoop in 2008, called Operation Pentameter II, in which vice dens across the town were raided.
Last month a man and a woman from the town were charged with conspiring to run a brothel following raids in Suffolk Road and Pittville Lawn.
Only this month Detective Inspector Sue Bradshaw, of Gloucestershire police, said brothels spring up in Cheltenham's leafy suburbs every few months. She was unavailable to comment yesterday.
The council task force is due to report to the full council in December with findings and recommendations on tackling issues linked to the sex trade.
Councillor Andrew Chard (C, Leckhampton), who also sits on the group, said: "Despite some big headline cases we don't think there is a lot of exploitation going on in Cheltenham.
"By undertaking this work the council is effectively saying to police 'is there anything we should be doing to help?'
"Judging from this week's meeting, the answer is 'no – not really'."