Duke of Devonshire pub in Southsea keeps its licence

A PUB landlord says he is very happy to be allowed to stay open after police said concerns sparked by two ‘serious’ incidents last month had been eased by new control measures.

Friday, 20th August 2021, 6:24 pm
Tom Yaman, landlord of Duke of Devonshire in Albert Road Picture: Habibur Rahman

The Duke of Devonshire had been threatened with losing its licence following police reports of sexual assaults, underage alcohol sales, alleged drugs misuse and a mass brawl.

But on Friday, a Portsmouth City Council licensing sub-committee agreed it could keep its licence subject to conditions temporarily introduced earlier this month – including a requirement to have security on the door – being made permanent.

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The Duke of Devonshire Picture: Chris Moorhouse (100421-15)

The pub's landlord, Tom Yaman, said he was ‘very happy’ with the decision and that the pub was 'safe and welcoming' for everyone.

The review was originally requested by Hampshire Police in response to the incidents reported at the end of July. These included a woman being sexually assaulted and a mass brawl.

But the pub's solicitor, John Wallsgrove, said allegations involving a 17-year-old girl were less serious than claimed and that CCTV footage 'told a different story' to what police were told.

At an interim hearing held earlier this month, councillors agreed to enforce a series of new conditions to the pub's licence to reduce the risk of future incidents in the run-up to Friday's full review.

This included a requirement to have bouncers on busier days, an upgraded CCTV system and extra staff training.

Ahead of Friday's hearing, more than 20 of the pub's regular customers wrote to Portsmouth City Council in support of the business's landlords, Tom and Sam Yaman.

A representation was also made by councillor Kirsty Mellor but was withdrawn before the start of the meeting. She had called for the licence to be revoked.

Speaking at the meeting, acting police sergeant Pete Rackham said the risk of incidents at the pub had now been reduced by the new conditions.

'We did have concerns about the premises but that appears to have been managed through the process we've been through,' he said. 'The premises has been compliant with the measures that were introduced.'

As a result, councillors agreed that the pub would keep its licence, subject to the conditions introduced earlier this month being kept.

'Clearly these are very serious issues and are of deep concern to the sub-committee, however [it] has heard from the police that the conditions initially introduced following an interim hearing have been successfully adopted and that the concerns have been managed by the process,' Councillor Scott Payter-Harris said.

'No further incidents of concern have been reported to the police and they are satisfied that the conditions, if permanently adopted, will reduce the risk of further serious incidents.'

However, he did issue a warning that if the conditions ‘slipped’ in the future then a new hearing could be called.

Speaking after the meeting, Mr Yaman said he was ‘very happy’ with the decision and that he was committed to making his pub a ‘home away from home’ for all its customers.

‘We did lose some trade as a result of this,’ he said. ‘What I want everyone to know is that the pub is a safe and welcoming place for everyone. This is shown by everyone who wrote to support us.

‘We're very pleased with decision and will make sure we don't let things slip.’

Mrs Yaman added: ‘We have children ourselves so we absolutely want our pub to be as safe as it can be.

‘We acted very quickly to these incidents and we will continue to do so.’