If at Thirst you don’t succeed, reapply

first_imgThe licences for two popular Oxford venues have come under scrutiny this week by both the council and the public. Thirst Lodge has sparked fresh controversy over its reapplication for a Sexual Entertainment Licence, following nationwide legislative changes to licensing policy. The Oxford Council website states that the licence would allow “Exotic/erotic dancing, Lap/Pole and table dancing, Semi and/or full nudity dancing.” A hearing will be held in March. The Lodge has repeatedly provoked community outrage since January 2009, when the bar first applied for a licence, only to withdraw in the face of local outcry. A second application was approved in December 2009. Members of St Ebbe’s Church in Pennyfarthing Place, where The Lodge is also situated, have encouraged students to object to the renewal of the licence. One attendee of the church said, “The new Oxford City Council regulations state that venues offering sexual entertainment should not generally be sited near historic buildings or tourist attractions, schools, play areas, nurseries, children’s centres or similar premises, shopping complexes, residential areas or places of worship. “Clearly The Lodge contravenes this in a number of respects, and in adopting these new regulations, Oxford City Council were responding to guidance issued by the Home Office, which states that, ‘these provisions…. will give local people a greater say over the regulation of lap dancing clubs and similar venues in their area’.” Katharine Terrell, OUSU’s Vice President for Women, also objected to the licence, voicing concerns about the welfare of the women working at The Lodge. “Women who work in the sexual entertainment industry are at a high risk of sexual assault and rape, often effectively earn below minimum wage, and are usually unable to unionise,” she told Cherwell. “The trafficking of women (many underage) into sex work in the UK remains widespread, yet most establishments do not ensure their workers are not trafficked or coerced and it is difficult for the punters to tell whether women have been trafficked or coerced. My concern is that visitors to sexual entertainment venues do not appreciate all these issues and simply see it as a good night out with no consequences.” However, some see no harm in The Lodge continuing to offer such entertainment. One third year Chemist, who wishes to remain anonymous, said “Thirst Lodge spiced up Oxford no end. I’ll be gutted if the girls go.” Julian Alison, a licensing officer for Oxford County Council, told Cherwell that “considering The Lodge has been operating as an adult entertainment venue for almost a year, without any increase in crime or violent incidents in the area, the result of the hearing in March could really go either way”. Meanwhile, The Bridge may have its Premises Licence reviewed. Oxford Council state on their website that “Thames Valley Police are seeking a review based on the grounds the operators are not upholding their obligations under the four objectives of the Licensing Act most notably the prevention of crime and disorder. “Thames Valley Police now believe that the most appropriate recourse moving forward is to refer the premises on again to the Licensing committee.” The application for review comes in the wake of a spate of violence outside some of the city’s most popular night-time haunts. In October, four men were arrested after a brawl outside The Bridge, which saw two people being taken to hospital, one with serious head injuries. The event occurred on the same night as a stabbing outside Baby Love bar.last_img read more