Fear over future of Portsmouth pub as Tesco makes alcohol bid

CELEBRATION Tim House, left, opens the champagne at The Fort Cumberland Arms infront of landlord and landlady Dave and Tina Dolling, right, and happy regulars of the Eastney community pub after it was saved at a city planning meeting last year. (123325-913)
CELEBRATION Tim House, left, opens the champagne at The Fort Cumberland Arms infront of landlord and landlady Dave and Tina Dolling, right, and happy regulars of the Eastney community pub after it was saved at a city planning meeting last year. (123325-913)
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TESCO plans to open a shop selling alcohol 17 hours a day – sparking fears about the future of a community pub which neighbours fought to save.

The retail giant wants to serve drink from 6am to 11pm on the site of Cumberland Service Station in Eastney Road, Eastney.

There are concerns that nearby pub The Fort Cumberland Arms could take a hit because it won’t be able to compete with cheap drinks deals. As previously reported, a petition signed by 600 residents stopped the council turning the historic premises into a children’s nursery last year.

The News got behind the campaign and rewarded everyone’s efforts by making Eastney Road the runner-up of our We Can Do It Best Street category.

Landlord Dave Dolling, 59, said: ‘This could damage our trade, especially as our licensing hours are 10am until midnight so people can have access to alcohol much earlier.

‘I’m concerned that there could be a shop in this area selling alcohol from 6am.

‘It could cause problems because people could come in the pub already drunk.

‘Tesco will be able to offer people a crate of beer for £10 and that’s something we can’t do. I’m calling on everyone in the area again to support their local pub and keep it open.’

Others say the move would attract more trouble.

In a letter to the council’s licensing team, Eastney ward councillor Terry Hall said ‘residents have told me that they often live in fear because of crime and anti-social behaviour relating to the misuse of alcohol.

She added: ‘The hours applied for are ridiculous.’

Tesco said in a report to the council that it will curb problems by installing a CCTV system which covers many areas of the shop.

There will also be training which will tell staff they can only serve alcohol to people who look over 25.

Tesco’s intention is to be ‘an active member of the community’ and says it is happy to liaise with the police.

The application comes as a Spar moving into the former Devonshire Arms pub, in Southsea, seeks to sell alcohol during the same hours. The council’s licensing sub committee will decide whether to accept both bids at a public meeting at 9.30am tomorrow.