Lapdance club vows to fight licence snub

thisisoxfordshire: The Lodge lapdancing club has had its licence revoked, but owner Al Thompson, far right, will challenge the decision in the High Court The Lodge lapdancing club has had its licence revoked, but owner Al Thompson, far right, will challenge the decision in the High Court

OXFORD’S only lapdancing club has closed its doors after the city council refused to renew its licence. But The Lodge’s owner Al Thompson has vowed to fight a costly legal battle to change the decision, which has affected the livelihoods of dozens of employees. Oxford City Council last month threw out an application to renew the Oxpens Road club’s adult entertainment licence.

Mr Thompson now plans to to fight the council’s decision at the High Court.

He warned a judicial review could cost taxpayers more than £100,000 in fees and damages.

The owner argued the council had granted the annual licence the year before and had not justified changing its mind.

He said: “It is a very expensive process but we feel aggrieved so it’s what we must do.

“They granted us a licence in July last year and gave very detailed reasons and strict conditions to operate.

“We have invested a lot of time and money into that building and now, without any objections from police or locals, the councillors have decided not to renew the licence and not made it clear why.

“Fair enough, if they said this premises had caused major problems, but clearly that is not the case.

“We feel we have been unjustly treated. It’s a grossly unfair decision.”

He said about 25 permanent staff would continue to be paid until a final decision was reached.

And he insisted he would claim costs off the council if the club won the licence back.

Gerald Gouriet QC, whose former clients include Las Vegas casino Caesar’s Palace, will represent the club.

Mr Thompson said councillors must have objected to the club on moral grounds.

He added: “It’s how my staff choose to make a living and now they can’t.

“It’s ridiculous they can change their minds for no reasons and drastically change these people’s lives.”

Immediately following the decision Mr Thompson told the Oxford Mail he would keep it open as a nightclub.

But yesterday he said the business was only viable as a gentlemen’s club.

He said he had still not made back all of the £200,000 invested into the business.

The renewal bid received 23 letters of support and 20 objections. Opponents raised concerns over the impact the club was having on the area.

One objector said: “They (lapdancing clubs) cast a pall of shame over the whole area.”

Most of the support came from club staff and owners.

Van Coulter, chairman of the licensing and registration sub committee, told the Oxford Mail last week the club had created a “hostile atmosphere”.

But last night council spokesman Louisa Dean said the council would not comment until they had seen the papers.

She said: “We have not received or been served with these papers as yet.”

The club was forced out of its old St Ebbes home last year before reopening in the new spot in November.

 

 

 

DANCERS, bouncers, bar workers and managers at the Lodge Club have spoken of their concerns for the future after its licence renewal was refused.


More than 50 self-employed dancers work from the club, and more than two dozen other workers count it as their main source of income.


Bartender Kara Jane, 21, of Oxford, said: “This is my sole income, and if I don’t have a job I can’t pay my rent, I would have to move back home.”
Oxford-based Charlie Smith, 30, said: “I have been dancing for 12 years and I choose to work here because it’s the best club I’ve ever worked at.”


Flic Johnson, 25, has been a dancer at the club for two years full-time and was hoping to work part-time to pay for a postgraduate law degree at Brookes.


She said: “I’m worried about where my second fees installment is going to come from.”


If the club closes, the future of Oxford-based Scope Security could also hang in the balance.


Business owner Sam Hasaj said: “The Lodge is our main client. We have four guys who work here full-time and two or three others who come in every now and then.”


Lodge manager Jess Hayes, 34, who commutes from Birmingham, was due to return from maternity leave next week, but now she fears for her future. She said: “For a lot of people it’s their livelihoods.”

Comments (16)

Please log in to enable comment sorting

11:13am Fri 12 Oct 12

rgeorge says...

This article clearly outlines the club's complaints, but doesn't give any voice to people in Oxford who didn't want the club's licence to be renewed. It'd be great to have both sides represented in any future articles. At the moment, this is little more than advertisement for the club and a conduit through which it can express it's frustrations. I usually expect more from The Mail, which gives great, balanced coverage. Not in this case, sadly.
This article clearly outlines the club's complaints, but doesn't give any voice to people in Oxford who didn't want the club's licence to be renewed. It'd be great to have both sides represented in any future articles. At the moment, this is little more than advertisement for the club and a conduit through which it can express it's frustrations. I usually expect more from The Mail, which gives great, balanced coverage. Not in this case, sadly. rgeorge
  • Score: -1

11:27am Fri 12 Oct 12

trutho says...

This article is flawed. Firstly, if you go on the council website you would see strong objections (including from locals) on the issue. So for the owner to state otherwise is simply untrue. Secondly,it's worth pointing out that the law has changed in terms of where venues as such is located. The councillors are only going by the law. And finally, it's not the police's role to comment on democratic council matters.
This article is flawed. Firstly, if you go on the council website you would see strong objections (including from locals) on the issue. So for the owner to state otherwise is simply untrue. Secondly,it's worth pointing out that the law has changed in terms of where venues as such is located. The councillors are only going by the law. And finally, it's not the police's role to comment on democratic council matters. trutho
  • Score: 0

11:57am Fri 12 Oct 12

ktech11 says...

Personally I don't have a problem with the club being where it is. I have never visited the club and I think it is a rare chance that I ever will. However I do go out in Oxford regularly and I have never seen any seediness from the place and I haven't ever seen inappropriate advertising from them. It is a service offered to people who choose to go there and at the end of the day if you do not like the service then do not go there? Clearly the place provides employment and keeps its customers happy. No need to close it down in my view.
Personally I don't have a problem with the club being where it is. I have never visited the club and I think it is a rare chance that I ever will. However I do go out in Oxford regularly and I have never seen any seediness from the place and I haven't ever seen inappropriate advertising from them. It is a service offered to people who choose to go there and at the end of the day if you do not like the service then do not go there? Clearly the place provides employment and keeps its customers happy. No need to close it down in my view. ktech11
  • Score: 4

12:17pm Fri 12 Oct 12

nicfem says...

This article is severely lacking in facts, to say over are 50 dancers working out the club is quite simply NOT true and there were very strong objections from locals. (I was at the hearing) I feel for those who are now without employment due to the closure but what about those residents living in the area of club that object or have been negatively affected by it? They have to live there and have a say. A council cannot reject a licence application without grounds and good cause. Shame on you Oxford mail - this article is a biased, badly written article severely lacking in facts, in fact it makes statements that are frankly untrue.....bad journalism, if you can call it that!
This article is severely lacking in facts, to say over are 50 dancers working out the club is quite simply NOT true and there were very strong objections from locals. (I was at the hearing) I feel for those who are now without employment due to the closure but what about those residents living in the area of club that object or have been negatively affected by it? They have to live there and have a say. A council cannot reject a licence application without grounds and good cause. Shame on you Oxford mail - this article is a biased, badly written article severely lacking in facts, in fact it makes statements that are frankly untrue.....bad journalism, if you can call it that! nicfem
  • Score: -1

12:40pm Fri 12 Oct 12

Darkforbid says...

Hang on Oxford mail ran the story first with the objections the council considered in their decision,,, So one sided?

And without doubt the only objections are from people with views on the trade not its local impact
Hang on Oxford mail ran the story first with the objections the council considered in their decision,,, So one sided? And without doubt the only objections are from people with views on the trade not its local impact Darkforbid
  • Score: 1

12:48pm Fri 12 Oct 12

fat Barry says...

I hope the club wins its appeal and is allowed to reopen, and the council have to pay a small fortune in costs
It would serve them right for trying to impose their narrow minded morals onto the rest of us.
I hope the club wins its appeal and is allowed to reopen, and the council have to pay a small fortune in costs It would serve them right for trying to impose their narrow minded morals onto the rest of us. fat Barry
  • Score: 5

2:11pm Fri 12 Oct 12

Quentin Walker says...

Twenty-five permanent staff and 50 freelance, yet only 23 letters of support, strange?
Twenty-five permanent staff and 50 freelance, yet only 23 letters of support, strange? Quentin Walker
  • Score: 0

2:16pm Fri 12 Oct 12

mytaxes says...

Darkforbid is correct the Oxford Mail gave a full account of objections plus an account of those who supported the club and as far as I remember there were more supporters than objectors. I have never been to the club and doubt I ever will, however, I have passed there on many occasions and can't see the problem. Bob Price, Leader of the Labour group, made his feelings known on the 9th June 2010: "OXFORD does not need a “mini Soho” – that was the message from city council leader Bob Price as the authority vowed to clampdown on lapdancing clubs."
Darkforbid is correct the Oxford Mail gave a full account of objections plus an account of those who supported the club and as far as I remember there were more supporters than objectors. I have never been to the club and doubt I ever will, however, I have passed there on many occasions and can't see the problem. Bob Price, Leader of the Labour group, made his feelings known on the 9th June 2010: "OXFORD does not need a “mini Soho” – that was the message from city council leader Bob Price as the authority vowed to clampdown on lapdancing clubs." mytaxes
  • Score: -1

3:59pm Fri 12 Oct 12

oxford103 says...

"Hang on Oxford mail ran the story first with the objections the council considered in their decision,,, So one sided?"
Really? Are you referring to this: http://www.oxfordmai
l.co.uk/news/yourtow
n/oxford/9961461.Lap
_dancing_club_stripp
ed_of_its_licence/ Because there wasn't anything in that article that demonstrated that the writer had a. read the pack of information the Council published after the consultation period b. attended the licensing hearing or c. had (unlike other local media sources) made any effort to contact any of the objectors. That sounds pretty one sided to me.

As for "And without doubt the only objections are from people with views on the trade not its local impact"
Again someone who didn't read the information pack or attend the hearing.

Notably this article, yet again, is simply a mouthpiece for a single view (the club owners) ignoring local residents (odd for a local newspaper, no?). As someone has said this is basically an adver-torial without the decency of labelling it as such.
"Hang on Oxford mail ran the story first with the objections the council considered in their decision,,, So one sided?" Really? Are you referring to this: http://www.oxfordmai l.co.uk/news/yourtow n/oxford/9961461.Lap _dancing_club_stripp ed_of_its_licence/ Because there wasn't anything in that article that demonstrated that the writer had a. read the pack of information the Council published after the consultation period b. attended the licensing hearing or c. had (unlike other local media sources) made any effort to contact any of the objectors. That sounds pretty one sided to me. As for "And without doubt the only objections are from people with views on the trade not its local impact" Again someone who didn't read the information pack or attend the hearing. Notably this article, yet again, is simply a mouthpiece for a single view (the club owners) ignoring local residents (odd for a local newspaper, no?). As someone has said this is basically an adver-torial without the decency of labelling it as such. oxford103
  • Score: 0

4:51pm Fri 12 Oct 12

MrSooty says...

All the objections are opinions from people outside the area.There is not a single objection from any immediate neighbour,nothing from the college,nothing from the nursery,and,rather interestingly,nothin
g at all from the vicar and his flock up the road.I'm no solicitor,but I've got a bad feeling about this decision.
All the objections are opinions from people outside the area.There is not a single objection from any immediate neighbour,nothing from the college,nothing from the nursery,and,rather interestingly,nothin g at all from the vicar and his flock up the road.I'm no solicitor,but I've got a bad feeling about this decision. MrSooty
  • Score: 4

5:07pm Fri 12 Oct 12

Darkforbid says...

Really?

The Clubs still open, it's just the type of entertainment allowed that's changed...

I'd suppose you'd rather have 'Club
Nights' with all the extra people, traffic, noise... that'll be so nice for the locals

And this is a 'Council Scraps License' follow up story,,, will the people affected object... man you're so right advertorial as hell
Really? The Clubs still open, it's just the type of entertainment allowed that's changed... I'd suppose you'd rather have 'Club Nights' with all the extra people, traffic, noise... that'll be so nice for the locals And this is a 'Council Scraps License' follow up story,,, will the people affected object... man you're so right advertorial as hell Darkforbid
  • Score: 0

5:25pm Fri 12 Oct 12

EMBOX1 says...

The fact is the council are, if this decision is not reversed, going to make people lose their jobs.

If council staff are cut, all hell breaks loose and there are strikes etc. When they council force others out of a job, they hide behind their desks and say its their job.

Well, this firm are doing nothing illegal, so there is no reason why their licence should not be renewed.

Yet another reason to axe the district councils, the most corrupt, money wasting bureaucratic apocalypse we have. Save for HMRC, perhaps..
The fact is the council are, if this decision is not reversed, going to make people lose their jobs. If council staff are cut, all hell breaks loose and there are strikes etc. When they council force others out of a job, they hide behind their desks and say its their job. Well, this firm are doing nothing illegal, so there is no reason why their licence should not be renewed. Yet another reason to axe the district councils, the most corrupt, money wasting bureaucratic apocalypse we have. Save for HMRC, perhaps.. EMBOX1
  • Score: 5

9:33pm Fri 12 Oct 12

Andrew:Oxford says...

Not sure if it is true, best to check with the lawyers...

But apparently it's ok if the venue is licensed in another city. So for example, a hospitality vehicle (such as one of those expanding corporate hospitality trucks you see at major events) could be licensed in Soho and driven out to Oxford and parked up alongside/behind (if there is space) The Lodge for a "performance venue".

Also, if it's done on railway vehicle, it's not a local licensing issue either. Plenty of old carriages around the country. All ready to be refitted as a portable venue. All on board, then party hard in the Oxford Sidings...
Not sure if it is true, best to check with the lawyers... But apparently it's ok if the venue is licensed in another city. So for example, a hospitality vehicle (such as one of those expanding corporate hospitality trucks you see at major events) could be licensed in Soho and driven out to Oxford and parked up alongside/behind (if there is space) The Lodge for a "performance venue". Also, if it's done on railway vehicle, it's not a local licensing issue either. Plenty of old carriages around the country. All ready to be refitted as a portable venue. All on board, then party hard in the Oxford Sidings... Andrew:Oxford
  • Score: 0

9:34pm Fri 12 Oct 12

Andrew:Oxford says...

Of course, I managed to miss out the most obvious one...

Who licences venues on the Isis? ie when not moored...
Of course, I managed to miss out the most obvious one... Who licences venues on the Isis? ie when not moored... Andrew:Oxford
  • Score: 0

11:48pm Fri 12 Oct 12

marston old boy says...

Don't get this..... what harm does the club do? no one is forced into the club. It just looks like as usual people who choose to work there are being forced to stop for a poor reason!

So for the anti's your choices:
1.Keep the club as is enjoy pretty quiet nights with no trouble.
2.Allow the club to become a venue again and the anti social climate that can come with this .
3.The club to close and become a Tesco's!

The choice is yours......
Don't get this..... what harm does the club do? no one is forced into the club. It just looks like as usual people who choose to work there are being forced to stop for a poor reason! So for the anti's your choices: 1.Keep the club as is enjoy pretty quiet nights with no trouble. 2.Allow the club to become a venue again and the anti social climate that can come with this . 3.The club to close and become a Tesco's! The choice is yours...... marston old boy
  • Score: 3

6:26am Sat 13 Oct 12

Sid Hunt says...

I struggle to see where the impact on 'local' residents would be. The area is predominately industrial/commercia
l and there does not appear to be any residential properties in the immediate vicinity. It would appear to be a very suitable location due to its lack of proximity to dwellings.
I struggle to see where the impact on 'local' residents would be. The area is predominately industrial/commercia l and there does not appear to be any residential properties in the immediate vicinity. It would appear to be a very suitable location due to its lack of proximity to dwellings. Sid Hunt
  • Score: 5

Comments are closed on this article.

click2find

About cookies

We want you to enjoy your visit to our website. That's why we use cookies to enhance your experience. By staying on our website you agree to our use of cookies. Find out more about the cookies we use.

I agree