LEADERS of a church in Oxford city centre have been stunned by a new application for a lapdancing venue just 20 yards from their front door.
In January, Greene King applied for a licence to run lapdancing and pole dancing sessions at Thirst Lodge, off St Ebbe’s Street.
But the brewery withdrew its application after staff at St Ebbe’s Church complained they did not want a lapdancing bar as a neighbour.
Greene King said at the time that the application had been withdrawn after listening to the concerns of their neighbours.
But now the brewery has submitted a similar application to Oxford City Council – and this time the bar in Pennyfarthing Place also wants to show films.
St Ebbe’s vicar, the Rev Vaughan Roberts, said: “Lapdancing is degrading for all those involved.
“We would be concerned about a lapdancing club opening anywhere in Oxford, but all the more when it’s on such a public thoroughfare and when it’s next door to a building that is used every day of the week by children and young people.
“Would they allow a lapdancing club to open next door to a primary school?”
Church manager Mark Abraham said the latest application came as a shock, adding: “Once again, Greene King did not tell us of their intentions, leaving us with very little time to object.
“St Ebbe’s is a very active church in the heart of Oxford, which reaches out to students and ministers to the elderly, the homeless, and children from very young to teenage, all who attend our church during the week – both mornings and evenings.
“To have a pub right on our doorstep promoting lap- dancing would only serve to harm the Gospel at St Ebbe’s and Oxford at large.”
The church attracts about 1,000 people a week to services and activities.
Mr Abraham said: “Lapdancing exploits women and that’s contrary to one of the key messages our church is trying to put out.
“A lapdancing bar would really change the nature of the area and we think it could put people off coming to our church.
“Greene King said they wouldn’t do this again so it’s extremely disappointing.”
The public consultation period ended on Thursday.
Elaine Beckett, a spokesman for Greene King, said: “Thirst Lodge is leased on a commercial arrangement to Spirit Bar Limited. Greene King has applied on behalf of Spirit Bar Limited to amend the premises’ licence to include the facility to show the performance of a dance, and this is going through the application process.
“As in all licence applications the general public and official bodies are able to make representations to this. These will be considered alongside the application by the licensing authority.
“We believe the operators of Thirst Lodge are experienced and as such will ensure the premises are operated in a professional manner at all times.”
The company would not comment on why it had returned with a fresh application after withdrawing the original plan earlier this year.
Louisa Dean, a spokesman for the city council, confirmed the council had received the application, which is expected to be considered by the licensing committee at a date to be fixed.
Lapdancing and pole dancing nights at Bar Baby, in Cowley Road, ended in 2007.