THE owner of a former lap-dancing club in Oxford has said it plans to stay open as a burlesque bar until December.
Last year, Al Thompson, who runs The Lodge, in Oxpens Road, took his fight against the city council’s decision to refuse his venue a new licence to the High Court, but lost.
Objections against the sex entertainment licence came from Oxford Feminist Network, among others, and the group carried out a survey of women in the area, some of whom claimed they had been “harassed” by customers leaving the club.
But Mr Thompson, who maintains his venue was well-run, said: “We are all grown-ups and everyone is entitled to their opinion but if something is legal and above-board it is a bit frustrating.
“Other cities in this country don’t seem to have the same attitude.
“We are hoping to be there until Christmas and then we will be gone. We are always looking for other sites but we won’t reapply for the sex entertainment licence unless there is a site where we can keep everyone happy, but I can’t see us finding that, to be honest.”
In 2012, the city council’s licensing sub-committee rejected an application for a licence renewal because the Lodge was near the ice rink, City of Oxford College, the car park and planned student flats.
But Mr Thompson took it to the High Court and the Court of Appeal, but his appeal was dismissed as it was ruled it was not necessary for objectors to show “something had changed” since the licence was first granted in July 2011 – something Mr Thompson had argued.
Oxford burlesque dancer Fabia Cerra, who appeared on Britain’s Got Talent in 2009, said: “There is no nudity in burlesque and it is actually an art form. Everyone who does burlesque is unique in their own different artistry but lap-dancing is for money and to entertain gentlemen.”
Ms Cerra said she would be happy to appear at The Lodge, now it is a burlesque club.
City council spokesman Chris Lee said: “The Lodge has restyled itself as a burlesque club, thus not requiring a sexual entertainment venue licence.
“However, it should be noted that lap-dancing is legally permitted less frequently than once per month without the need for a sexual entertainment venue licence.
“Licensing officers visit the venue as part of general enforcement operations in order to ensure compliance with licence conditions.”
Mr Thompson has applied for a new premises licence for the venue to open from noon until 5am Monday-Saturday and noon until 2am on Sundays. Currently it is open Monday-Thursday noon to 2.30am, Friday noon to 3.30am, Saturday noon to 2.30pm and Sunday noon to 2pm.