So the battle that the Thirst Lodge has been fighting has taken a turn for the worst. An appeals judge Lord Justice Lloyd Jones has decided the council can decide to close a venue even if they have previously granted a license and there has been no change of use in the area. This could be a dangerous precedent that could affect clubs and pubs around the UK.
Now this has been part of a battle that has seen Cllr Bob Price Leader of Oxford City Council who said in 2010 he did not want lap-dancing clubs in Oxford. He called lap-dancing “dubious and exploitative”, adding: “It may not be unlawful, but it’s not something we want here.” Which is very not in my back yard and makes the assumption about the rest of the general public who never really objected to the club license except for a small handful from the Oxford Feminist Network.
Back in 2011 when the church close to the club tried to have the license removed found that Deputy District Judge Gary Lucie threw out the church’s appeal after finding there was no public nuisance, the church’s activities rarely overlapped with Thirst Lodge’s opening hours and crime in the area had fallen since the club’s change of use. And we note the last part of the statement that crime had fallen!
Now because of all the fuss the owner decided to move the club to a new location. You would think the council might have said at the outset that they didn't think the location was suitable but they were happy to let the club reopen in its new location of Oxpens and grant a license. Strange that one year later they announce plans for the future for the area and also decide the Lodge was no longer suitable for the area. Oxford Feminist Network did claim a survey showed that women in the area were being verbally abused by the club customers even though the club is sat next to a night club and it would be hard to tell which club is to blame. Plus of course there seems to be a lack of police reports, you know with the claims of being verbally abused but only on a person's claim which remember we have seen Object in the past encourage people to use.
So here we have a club that moved because the council was making noises about its old location. Now I can't see a club moving to a new location without being told they will get their license, yet the council neglected to mention that plans were being worked on for the area. I have said it before but to me this was a deliberate ploy to shut the club by getting it to locate near to a night club so any issues from the night club becomes the Lodge's problems. I just cannot see the club moving in isolation and personally I think the council pulled a disgusting maneuver as in my years in local government I saw how long it took to get plans like the work planned for Oxpens. It was, to me, a deliberate ploy to close the Lodge and after £100k of investment the 1 year of operation and the attempts to close the place needs to be questioned.
Okay I am rehashing old ground but this sends out a message that will affect clubs all over the UK. Now what gets me is the fact that not even 0.1% of the population of Oxford complained so this is not about what the public wants but about what a very small minority want. Shame that the council didn't ask the locals what they thought.