Nearly five years of lap-dancing at an East Oxford bar are coming to an end.

Bar Baby, in Cowley Road, is undergoing major refurbishment - and when it reopens on Friday, October 21, its regular Sunday lap-dancing nights will no longer be part of the programme.

Martin Forde, who runs the bar which is to be renamed Baby Simple, denied the raunchy entertainment was being cancelled due to lack of interest and said it had simply run its course.

He said: "I totally enjoy it but I just think it's time to move on.

"It's been very popular but now if someone else wants to do it, let them take it on."

Bar Baby was the only establishment in the city to offer adult entertainment of that nature.

When its licence was first granted in November 2002, more than 500 people signed a petition and 75 residents wrote in opposition to the plans.

Among those who objected was Margaret Coombs, of Divinity Road.

She told the Oxford Mail: "That's excellent news. I'm very glad it's stopping because I think it's very degrading to women."

She admitted concerns over rowdy behaviour from customers and large numbers of cars parking nearby had not been realised.

She said: "I can't say that I personally noticed any annoyance in the neighbourhood but we didn't go past there on Sundays.

"Certainly none of the fears that were expressed that there would be a lot of people pouring out at night appeared to come to fruition, but I'm delighted that it won't be happening any more.

"I hope the bar will have a more edifying form of entertainment."

The Rev Adam Romanis, vicar at SS Mary and John Church in Cowley Road, also opposed the plans.

He said: "I'm pleased that this is ceasing rather than continuing.

"We have three sex shops on Cowley Road and I don't like the idea of this area becoming the red light district of Oxford.

"There are so many other wonderful things about the road so I don't think it would happen, but anything of that nature I would not wish to see encouraged."

When it reopens, the bar will be under new management as Nick Gladwin, of Simple Promotions, joins as a partner.

Music is expected to be more of a focus, and the upstairs area will be turned into an art gallery, showcasing local and national talent. Mr Forde said he was undecided whether or not to leave the dancing poles in place - but if he did they would be for customers, rather than performers, "because people like to swing on a pole."

The refit is expected to cost £40- £50,000 and Mr Forde said he thought there was a major shortage of gallery space in Oxford. He said: "It's something that the community will benefit from."

Artists wishing to exhibit should call 07935 306707.