It would have been a mistake to let people drink even longer in that area

The Co-operative shop in Cambridge Road, Portsmouth
The Co-operative shop in Cambridge Road, Portsmouth
Rear Admiral Kenneth Whitesell

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A CONTROVERSIAL application by a Co-op to increase the hours of its alcohol licence has been withdrawn.

The request was for the convenience store next to the University of Portsmouth’s Student’s Union in Cambridge Road in Portsmouth city centre.

The shop wanted to open two hours earlier every day – at 6am – and extend to 11pm on Sundays, half an hour later than at present.

But police objected on the grounds of crime and disorder, as well as public safety.

Councillors and local residents welcomed the decision not to press ahead with the hearing, which would have sat earlier this week at Portsmouth’s Guildhall.

In a statement The Co-operative Group said it had decided the store’s existing hours were ‘well suited to the local community’ and did not need to be changed.

Hampshire police submitted a written representation to the committee in which it outlined concerns that the extended hours would have caused more alcohol-related problems in the city centre.

It wrote: ‘We are concerned that additional hours relating to the supply of alcohol, allow persons to either continue their drinking from the late night economy area in which the venue is situated, or begin drinking at an early unsociable hour, increasing the potential and likelihood of crime and disorder when alcohol has been consumed and spirits are high. The venue itself forms part of the university.

‘Due to its location, its key patrons are students and it does not benefit greatly from passing trade.

‘The availability of alcohol at such an early hour, and in such close proximity to student living accommodation, gives police cause for concern.’

Lib Dem cabinet member for community safety Cllr Aiden Gray said he was glad the Co-op had decided the area wouldn’t benefit from increasing their hours.

‘We have got to strike the right balance,’ he said.

‘There are already a lot of pubs and clubs around that area.

‘If we can limit the number of people who are pre-loading before they go out then that will help reduce disorder, the minimum alcohol price should help with that too.

‘Good on the Co-op for thinking about it and deciding it wasn’t right for that area.’

He added that the difficulty of preventing convenience stores opening all over the area was another problem that needed addressing.

Linda Crawley, 67, from Southsea, said: ‘It would have been a mistake to let people drink even longer in that area.

‘Students don’t need alcohol round-the-clock. I’m glad they changed their minds.’

A spokesperson for The Co-operative Group said: ‘An application for extended licensing hours was submitted, as part of a wider review of trading hours across our 3,000 strong estate.

‘However, on further consideration the team responsible for this store decided to maintain its existing hours as they were well suited to the local community.’