OXFORD does not need a “mini Soho” – that was the message from city council leader Bob Price as the authority vowed to clampdown on lapdancing clubs.

From Thursday, Oxford City Council will take on new powers allowing it to halt any form of sexual entertainment in certain parts of the city.

Thirst Lodge, in St Ebbe’s, will find out later this month whether it can continue running lapdancing nights after a neighbouring church challenged its licence in the courts.

Under new council licensing powers, to be adopted at a meeting next week, lapdancing clubs will not be approved in residential areas, close to schools or play areas, near shopping centres or tourist hot spots or close to churches and other places of worship.

Opponents of lapdancing clubs have welcomed the tighter controls.

Mr Price branded the entertainment “dubious and exploitative” and said council did not want to see lapdancing clubs in Oxford at all.

“It may not be unlawful, but it’s not something we want here.

He added: “We’re not in the business of creating a mini Soho in Oxford. We have better things to offer.”

Mr Price said the council had major concerns about the effect lapdancing clubs could have on the city and the new powers would allow the council to control both the number and location of sex entertainment venues.

Under the new rules, any venue providing entertainment like lap or pole dancing would need to be licensed by the council and its application would be judged against a list or criteria including its proximity to schools, shops and tourist attractions.

Mr Price said the criteria made it clear Thirst Lodge, in Pennyfarthing Place, was an “unsuitable” location for a lapdancing club.

But he said the council could only make that decision when a licence came up for renewal.

The powers have been welcomed by St Ebbe’s Church, which is campaigning to halt lapdancing at the neighbouring bar.

Church spokeswoman Dr Lucy Bannister said: “The reality is lap dancing clubs cause women in particular to feel unsafe.

“A member of our staff was leaving church late and had to walk through a group of men discussing going to The Lodge and using explicit language. It’s intimidating.”

She added: “We are delighted the council has been quick off the mark and shown its determination to rectify the situation.”

The church’s appeal against Thirst Lodge’s licence to stage lapdancing will be heard at Oxford Magistrates’ Court on June 28.

Thirst Lodge declined to comment.