Oxford church celebrates after council strips club of lap dance licence

Oxford Council’s Licensing Committee granted the variation of a licence in 2009 to Greene King to run the Thirst Lodge lap dancing venue in Pennyfarthing Place, just 50 yards from the church.

St Ebbe’s church lost its appeal against the lap dance venue’s licence at the Oxford Magistrates’ Court last June.

However, last night the local authorities decided to revoke the licence at the first hearing of its kind to be held since Oxford City Council adopted new licencing laws. Under the previous laws, lap dancing venues were considered on the same basis as nightclubs and pubs. The changes give local authorities greater powers to decide whether such lap dancing venues should be established and where.

The ruling has been welcomed by the rector of St Ebbe’s, the Rev Vaughan Roberts, who said it should send the clear message that such an establishment “is not welcome in our city centres”.

“As a church, we campaigned against this licence application as we did not believe this sort of establishment should continue to have a base in the city centre of Oxford,” he said.

“Oxford has a large percentage of young women, and an establishment such as this could put those enjoying the culture and nightlife in Oxford at risk.

“In addition, many children and young people use our church building each week and to have such a club in close proximity would not be appropriate.”

The church was supported in its challenge by the Christian Legal Centre. Its chief executive, Andrea Minichiello Williams, welcomed the ruling.

“When the law serves you well it is a great thing,” she said. “We are so pleased that this licence has been refused and that this lap dancing club will not be able to operate in this location in the heart of Oxford.

“This decision will make a positive difference to the wellbeing of the local community.”