Landmark King’s Cross gay bar avoids sex fee

A landmark gay bar, that plays host to foot fetish, nappy wearing and bondage clubs in the basement, has been saved from paying �14,000 for a sex licence.

Central Station, in Wharfedale Road, one of the last remaining gay venues in the borough, was served with the bill for a sex establishment licence by Islington Council.

The permit is normally �required for strip clubs, but owner Duncan Irvine maintained the nudity taking place in the basement was �between consenting adults and had no performance �aspect.

He asked the council to waive the demand and, at a meeting on Monday the licensing committee decided he didn’t need one after all.

Mr Irvine said: “It’s a huge weight off my mind because it’s something we have been really worried about. It’s a lot of money to pay for nothing extra.

“We wouldn’t have had to close if forced to pay for a licence – desperate times call for desperate measures and we would have found a way.

But it would have made things very difficult, as things are already tight with people not going out as much.”

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Central Station opened in 1992 and has become and integral part of London’s gay community. As well as a thriving cabaret night, it holds specialist events, including one for the elderly and their admirers, and jazz and comedy clubs.

It is also the home of various gay sports teams, and has raised �40,000 for charities, many Aids related.

Mr Irvine said: “I like to think we are unique. We might not be everyone’s cup of tea, but we certainly have a cup of tea for everyone.

“I am particularly proud of the fact the transvestites can come here and just sit in the bar.

‘‘Even in some gay bars it’s quite difficult for them to feel relaxed.’’