Paulsgrove’s last pub faces closure

The Cross Keys pub in Birdlip Road, Paulsgrove
The Cross Keys pub in Birdlip Road, Paulsgrove

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The future of the last pub in Paulsgrove is at risk because of police concerns over safety.

In a report, Hampshire Constabulary says there have been a ‘number of issues’ at The Cross Keys in Birdlip Road, Portsmouth, over the past 12 months.

The pub must be saved. Maybe it’s been mismanaged, maybe it hasn’t. But it’s the last pub in Paulsgrove. There would be nowhere else for anyone to go.

Paulsgrove Ukip councillor Stuart Potter

PC Pete Rackham says licensing objectives have been ‘seriously undermined’ by the ‘ineffective management’ of the pub’s supervisor – Stephen Greaves.

PC Rackham says it has also proved difficult to get hold of the firm which holds the pub’s licence – Hawthorn Leisure Limited – to address concerns.

The most recent serious incident came on May 26 this year, when a man was attacked with a glass at the pub and left with a broken leg.

Yet customers at the pub interviewed by police said they ‘did not see anything’ – and officers say the victim declined to co-operate with their investigations afterwards.

But supporters of the Cross Keys say it must be saved – and believe things can be turned around.

Paulsgrove Ukip ward councillor Stuart Potter, enjoys regular visits to the venue.

He said: ‘The pub must be saved.

‘Maybe it’s been mismanaged, maybe it hasn’t.

‘But it’s the last pub in Paulsgrove. There would be nowhere else for anyone to go.

‘Maybe it needs to clean up its act.

‘But every time I have been there, there’s never been any trouble, and I go there quite often. It’s my local.’

Cllr Potter says he’s concerned by police recommendations that there should be two security staff on the door at all times – describing the plan as ‘overkill’ that it would hit the pub’s finances hard.

He said: ‘Perhaps this would be better when the pub is busy, like on weekends and during bank holidays.

‘The atmosphere is always great in there and the place puts you at ease.’

PC Rackham has concluded in the police dossier – which will be presented to Portsmouth City Council’s licensing committee at a later date – that a new supervisor be appointed and the pub should be temporarily closed until new conditions are agreed and a plan put in place to address problems.

Police also want to reduce opening hours so the pub closes at 11pm, seven days a week.

The report says: ‘The chief officer of police feels that this will allow the last remaining public house in Paulsgrove to remain open in a way which fully upholds the licensing objectives and reduce the risk of harm to persons attending the premises.’

A spokesperson for the pub was unavailable.

THE Cross Keys has managed to stand the test of the time and remain a permanent fixture in the heart of its community.

The Clacton Arms, which used to be in Clacton Road, Paulsgrove, was demolished after it was badly damaged by fire in 1991.

The Old House at Home in Jubilee Avenue served its last pint in 2000 and former pub The Beehive in Ludlow Road made way for housing in 2005.

Now The Cross Keys, which has been open since 1957, is the only local left for residents.

The pub was run by Whitbread for many years and more recently owned by Suffolk brewing giant Greene King.

By 2014 it had been sold on to independent firm Hawthorn Leisure.

Over the years the pub has done its bit for charitable causes.

Sweets have been sold in aid of children’s hospice Naomi House and money from the sale of daffodils has gone towards Marie Curie Cancer Care.

Paulsgrove Labour councillor John Ferrett, said the police are right to raise concerns – but also hopes the pub can be turned around.

Cllr Ferrett added: ‘Clearly, we have a real lack of amenities and social venues in Paulsgrove.

‘But at the same time, I fully understand what the police are saying. There have appeared to be several violent incidents and clearly, that is not acceptable.

‘If there is public disorder, the police have every right to make recommendations.

‘I would like to see the pub kept and remain as a good house and a good venue.

‘But we will await to see what action is taken.’