A LAPDANCING club in Oxford is now making a profit with some customers paying out £500 for bottles of Champagne.

Rop Opher, the tenant of Thirst Lodge in Penny- farthing Place, told Oxford Magistrates’ Court in a hearing to determine if the club off St Ebbe’s Street can continue as a lapdancing venue that it had been a commercial success.

He said up to 90 customers would visit on a busy night.

Members of nearby St Ebbe’s Church are appealing against Oxford City Council’s decision to change Mr Ophers licence and allow lapdancing.

But the decision prompted protests from the congregation at St Ebbe’s.

Mr Opher told Deputy District Judge Gary Lucie the club was now a success after he decided to switch from a nightclub to offer customers in Oxford a “unique selling point”.

Mr Opher said: “There is a higher age group and a bigger average spend.

“We sell bottles of Champagne for £250 and £500. We have some very good high spenders.”

Mr Opher added he had tried to be a good neighbour to the church in the past, and was happy to respond to any complaints about noise and parking.

Before it became a lapdancing venue, £45,000 was spent on noise barriers, Mr Opher told Judge Lucie.

John Perkins, who lives in a church flat opposite Thirst Lodge, said he complained last month about noise disturbance, but admitted it was possible the noise could have been caused by a neighbouring venue.

St Ebbe’s Rector, the Rev Vaughan Roberts, said female staff at the church felt intimidated by the lapdancing sessions.

He said: “Staff are concerned that men are going there for sexual stimulation.

“The men come out sexually charged and that makes them (the staff) feel vulnerable.”

Sushila Dhall, former Green city councillor for the Carfax ward, said she had been contacted by residents who were worried about the club’s location.

Earlier this year, city council leader Bob Price said the council planned to adopt new licensing powers so that it could clamp down on lapdancing clubs.

But Daniel Smith, acting on behalf of the council, told the court it would adopt a “largely neutral stance” for the duration of the hearing.

The club is open 9pm to 3am Monday to Saturday It does not open on Sundays.

The hearing continues.