Fears raised over late-night licence

Roger Giese

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THERE have been warnings that one of Portsmouth’s most popular streets could turn into ‘a second Guildhall Walk’ if something isn’t done about late-night drinking.

Residents and councillors voiced concerns after the Rainbow Store, in Albert Road, was granted a licence to sell alcohol from 6am until 2am, seven days a week.

They objected to the application, which was heard by Portsmouth City Council’s licensing sub-committee, on the grounds that violence and drunken behaviour, which plague Guildhall Walk in the city centre, on the road are on the rise.

Lib Dem councillor Hugh Mason said while there is a nearby convenience store with a 24-hour licence – the New Kwiki Mart – that was no reason to make the problem worse. He said: ‘Because of the large number of fights and disturbances in the area, Albert Road is the only place in Portsmouth – apart from Guildhall Walk – where the Street Pastors operate.

‘Residents are largely of the view that these problems are caused not by the people drinking in the pubs, but people coming out of them and buying further alcohol.

‘If we are not careful we could end up with Albert Road becoming a second Guildhall Walk.’

Mike Thomas, 49, from Waverley Road, Southsea, who said he is confronted by drunken and antisocial behaviour on a regular basis.

‘This is a problem which is happening so we should not be talking about extending the hours of this licence,’ he said. ‘People I know have moved away from the area as a result. It is frustrating; the situation is getting worse.’

But Cllr Margaret Foster, who sits on the committee, said the owner of the business was well regarded and had put in place everything he could to prevent disorder.

‘Everybody is entitled to a chance,’ she said. ‘This shop is not near the Kwiki Mart and a large part of the problem with alcohol abuse is people getting drunk before they go out.’

At the same meeting the Liquor Mart, in High Street, Cosham, was granted a licence from 11am to 10pm, Monday to Saturday.