Lap dancing club to shut after licence appeal fails

Oxford Mail: Owner Al Thompson and staff outside the club when the lap-dancing licence was revoked in 2012 Picture: OX54842 Jon Lewis Buy this photo Owner Al Thompson and staff outside the club when the lap-dancing licence was revoked in 2012 Picture: OX54842 Jon Lewis

A LAP-DANCING club has lost a last-ditch appeal against Oxford City Council’s decision to refuse its licence and must now close.

Al Thompson, the owner of The Lodge, in Oxpens Road, launched a court challenge to the council’s decision.

Last year, he took his fight to the High Court but Mr Justice Haddon-Cave decided in favour of the council. Yesterday, his appeal against that ruling was also dismissed at the Appeal Court.

Objections against the sex entertainment licence came from Oxford Feminist Network, among others, and it carried out a survey of women in the area, some of whom claimed they had been “harassed” by customers leaving the club.

Oxford City Council’s licensing sub-committee said the lodge was close to the ice rink, City of Oxford College, the car park and planned student accommodation.

Mr Thompson, who has spent more than £100,000 relocating and refurbishing the club, said it had flourished “happily” and “without incident” since it opened in November 2011, providing local employment, income and entertainment.

Dismissing the appeal, Lord Justice Lloyd Jones said: “On a fair reading of the 2012 decision, it is clear that the committee concluded on the evidence relating to the club’s operation over the previous year, that the limitation of opening times and absence of external indications as to the nature of the activities taking place had not been sufficient to protect the character of the area.”

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He said it was an “inappropriate” location for a lap-dancing club.

The judge, sitting with the Master of the Rolls Lord Dyson, and Lord Justice Longmore, ruled it was not necessary for objectors to show that “something had changed” since the licence was first granted in July 2011.

Mr Thompson said earlier that the 100 performers would have to find work elsewhere, with the nearest alternative in Banbury.

City council spokeswoman Louisa Dean said: “The Court of Appeal has upheld the council’s decision to refuse renewal of the licence.

“That decision will now take effect and The Lodge may no longer operate as a Sexual Entertainment Venue.”

When approached by the Oxford Mail, Mr Thompson said: “I have no comment to make at this time.”

The venue, formerly called Thirst Lodge, was moved from Pennyfarthing Place in the city centre in 2011 after the council said it was too close to St Ebbe’s Church.

Members of the church also objected. After granting it a licence for the Oxpens Road venue, the council reversed its decision and said the new location was also “inappropriate”, as it was near Oxford Ice Rink.

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