The Lodge Gentlemen’s Club, Oxford’s only lap-dancing club, has lost a High Court appeal to have its sexual entertainment licence renewed.
The club first had its licence revoked by Oxford City Council in 2011. At that time it was operating in Pennyfarthing Place, next to St. Ebbe’s Church, and was accused of having premises in an unsuitable area. It then moved to its current location in Oxpens Road. However, despite the move, the club was yet again denied a licence by Oxford City council in October 2012. The reason given was once more the inappropriate location of the club.
The council’s criteria for areas considered inappropriate for sexual entertainment licences included parts of the city near historic buildings or tourist attractions, schools and play areas. St. Thomas Day Nursery, a parish church and the Oxford and Cherwell Valley College are all within a few hundred metres of The Lodge’s new premises.
The club’s owner, Alistair Thompson, appealed to the High Court due to what he argued were “irrelevant and inaccurate factors” taken into account when considering the suitability of the club’s location.
Yet a recent High Court decision will uphold Oxford City Council’s refusal of a sexual entertainment licence to the club. A High Court official, Mr. Justice Haddon-Cave, dismissed Thompson’s grounds for appeal. He also dismissed the possibility of a third factor, that of supposed bias by a member of Oxford City Council’s licensing registration sub-committee.
Thompson now intends to take the matter to the Court of Appeal. He said: “We are shocked and very disappointed with the judgment. It has huge implications, not just on our business, but for the night time industry as a whole. Our legal team advise us we have a very strong case to take forward an appeal.”
However, Councillor and Council leader Bob Price, had a very different opinion on the outcome. “We are pleased the decision of the panel was upheld, which was based on the careful application of the criteria agreed by the council in 2010 to define suitable locations for sex entertainment venues.”
Keble College student Heli Copley also agreed with the decision. She told Cherwell, “I think the sexual entertainment industry is quite an outdated industry, and is particularly unhelpful in a city that has quite an impact on a lot of young people.”
Although The Lodge’s website describes it as “Oxford’s most opulent and exclusive club”, promising “stunning stage shows throughout the night” and going on to mention that its “stunning dancers” would treat patrons like “Kings”, many other students share Copley’s opinion.
Physicist David Harris stated, “I for one hope nothing ‘pops up’ to make the licensers reconsider.”
Meanwhile, first year lawyer Chris Jenkins seemed completely unaware of the club’s presence, saying, “We had a lap dancing club?”