OXFORD'S 'premier LGBT nightclub' has been refused permission to stay open until 4am because of fears it could contribute to crime.

Plush Lounge was told by police last night that drunken clubbers were more likely to get into fights but also more likely to be victims of crime.

The club, which ran in a Nuffield College-owned building on Frideswide Square for nine years, was forced to move in January after the college started a massive revamp.

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It moved into the former Purple Turtle club in an underground space on Frewin Court off Cornmarket Street.

After moving, it had to ask the city council for permission to open at Frewin Court at the same times it had always opened at Frideswide Square – until 4am on Fridays and Saturday nights.

Oxford Mail:

But at a city council meeting last night, police convinced the licensing committee to refuse permission.

The owners told the council there had been no criminal incidents at Plush over the past year and Thames Valley Police admitted its record was ‘exemplary’.

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However, officers said if it had been allowed to open until 4am it would have increased demand on already stretched police in the city centre.

Police licensing officer Alex Bloomfield said: “We’re not solely talking about people getting drunk and getting into fights. We’re talking about people who, yes, might have consumed alcohol, but also the likely increase of them being victims of crime as well as being the perpetrators.”

Oxford Mail:

He also said that police did not have concerns with the way the club was being run, but had worries about the way its later opening could affect the city centre’s Special Saturation Policy (SSP).

Stuart Hayles, one of Plush’s directors, said: “On the basis we’ve been trading for nine years with the hours we’re asking for, without any incident, without affecting the SSP, we don’t believe there’s evidence to indicate we will suddenly have an impact.”

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He added the club was the only one in Oxford that catered for disabled visitors and that they should not miss out because of shorter opening times.

But the city council agreed with police.

The club will now need to close at 3.30am and stop selling alcohol on Fridays and Saturdays at 3am – the same hours operated by Purple Turtle.

Oxford Mail:

Oxford Town Hall, where last night's council meeting was held.

Chairman of the licensing committee Mark Lygo said Plush had failed to show its punters would not contribute to crime after they left the club.

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Plush can appeal against the decision, which Mr Lygo said had been reached by a majority verdict on the three-person panel.

According to the city council, just Varsity, in High Street, and Cirkus, in George Street, can sell alcohol until 3.30am on Fridays and Saturdays.