Sainsbury’s allowed to sell alcohol in Guildhall Walk

The former Walkabout pub
The former Walkabout pub

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SAINSBURY’S has been given permission to sell alcohol in Guildhall Walk – despite objections.

Concerns were raised that the city centre street – which has been dogged by alcohol-fuelled violence in recent years – is the wrong place for a convenience store.

Hampshire Constabulary, Portsmouth’s director of public health and the local authority’s licensing team all raised fears that a new off-licence could increase disorder and the amount of ‘preloading’ before people go to pubs or clubs.

But the supermarket chain received the approval of Portsmouth City Council’s licensing sub-committee after agreeing with the police to only sell alcohol from 7am to 9pm seven days a week.

It will also make use of safety measures such as CCTV, no alcohol being placed near the doors and a Challenge 25 policy.

The supermarket will go into the former Walkabout bar.

Chairman of the committee Les Stevens said: ‘It seemed a better use of the premises than what possibly could have been another bar.

‘There were some really awful incidents in that place and we thought this change would be better for residents.

‘This will be a new option and a new direction for Guildhall Walk.’

Ann Bartlett has been campaigning against alcohol-fuelled violence since her son Kyle Bartlett, a 21-year-old sailor, died after a fight in 2009 when the building was a Walkabout bar.

She has welcomed there being one less nightclub in Guildhall Walk. ‘It can only be a good thing,’ she said.

‘I wouldn’t want to see that building opening as something like a nightclub after my son was killed there.’

But Portsmouth’s interim director of public health, Dr Andrew Mortimore, pointed out that there had been 156 alcohol-related assaults in the road last year during the shop’s opening hours and said its licence should start at 8am.

Licensing manager for Sainsbury’s Joanne Surguy said she was relieved the company had been granted permission.

‘I’m happy with the decision,’ she said.

‘You never really know what’s going to happen with these applications.’