Page last updated at 15:20 GMT, Sunday, 25 January 2009

Anger over Henley lap-dance club

Henley town centre
Plans for Henley's first lap-dancing club have angered some residents

Some residents in a picturesque market town famous for its royal regatta are up in arms over the prospect of a lap-dancing club opening there.

Diamonds and Pearls was due to open on Saturday on the site of a former nightclub in Henley-on-Thames.

South Oxfordshire District Council said it had no choice but to give permission for the new club as the premises had previously held a late-night licence.

Town councillor Dr Barry Wood has set up a group to try to close the venue.

Dr Wood is organising a rally next weekend and is urging people to sign a petition opposing the establishment.

'Sexual imagery'

"I'm appalled on many levels, we've already got tremendous problems with the night-time economy with drunken and abusive yobs," he said.

"We're also worried about young people in the town coming into contact with sleazy and sexual imagery, not to mention the extra burden it'll put on policing."

The district council said it could not ban the club on moral grounds

The town's mayor, Gill Zakss, said: "It's not what you'd expect in Henley.

"I'm not one of the Mary Whitehouse brigade, but I don't think it'll attract enough customers. I think in this current economic climate it will close down shortly."

Mrs Zakss added: "The club has had a chequered history over the last six or seven years and residents have suffered with people coming out drunk and making a lot of noise in the early hours of the morning - it's very un-neighbourly."

The licensing authority, South Oxfordshire District Council, said it had received no objections from the police or residents during the consultation period.

However, a number of conditions were recommended, including changing the club's closing time from 0400 to 0200.

It could be better for the area as customers for lap-dancing clubs tend to be older
Chris Knight
Lap Dancing Association

Leader of the council Ann Ducker said: "We can't ban licensing on moral grounds. "We had to have grounds to reject it; the previous owners had a late licence.

"There's a loop in the legislation which means you don't need special permission for lap-dancing under an entertainment licence for a late-night club."

No-one from Diamonds and Pearls was immediately available for comment.

Chris Knight, a spokesman for the Lap Dancing Association, said: "If the venue is well run and operated, there's no reason why it would increase crime and disorder.

"In fact it could be better for the area as customers for lap-dancing clubs tend to be older, more responsible and not as many come through the door as a regular nightclub."

Changes to licensing regulations for lap-dancing venues are currently being considered by the government after complaints from across the country about the number of new establishments.

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