Oxford City Council is using new powers to crack down on “exploitative” lap-dancing clubs, in a move welcomed by a local church.
St Ebbe’s Church is campaigning against a lap-dancing venue close to its premises and praised the Council for its “determination to rectify the situation”.
Local councils across England and Wales now have more power to act over lap-dancing clubs when residents make objections.
Oxford City Council is particularly concerned about one venue near St Ebbe’s – Thirst Lodge – which holds lap-dancing nights, but says it cannot do anything until the licence comes up for renewal.
City Council leader Bob Price said the city has “better things to offer” than lap-dancing.
He commented: “It may not be unlawful, but it’s not something we want here”.
Dr Lucy Bannister, from St Ebbe’s Church, 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.”
St Ebbe’s has challenged Thirst Lodge over the lap-dancing licence and Oxford Magistrates’ Court will hear the case on 28 June.
Earlier this month Ed Miliband, who is running for the Labour Party leadership, said his party should have taken more notice of people’s concerns about lap-dancing clubs when it was in Government.
Labour’s 2003 Licensing Act put lap-dancing clubs in the same category as cafes and bars, which made it hard for local residents to object to licence applications.
But the last Government eventually changed its approach and in April local councils were given more power to act when residents complain about lap-dancing clubs.
The clubs now fall under sex establishment licensing rules, making it easier for local residents to say they are “inappropriate”.
The venues must apply to local councils for a licence, but an application can now be rejected on grounds of crime, nuisance or public safety – but not for moral reasons.