‘I’ve had a gutfull’ says Portsmouth landlady as she walks away from pub after its licence is threatened

Bernice Gofton behind the bar of the Painters Arms in Lake Road
Bernice Gofton behind the bar of the Painters Arms in Lake Road
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THE landlady of a Portsmouth pub which has been threatened with losing its licence says she has handed the keys back.

Until this week Bernice Gofton was the landlady of the Painters Arms in Lake Road, Portsmouth, having taken the job in December 2008.

The News reported today that Portsmouth City Council’s licensing committee is to discuss the pub on Tuesday after concerns had been raised about a series of violent incidents, including allegations that a man’s earlobe had been bitten off and that another man had been attacked by two women.

But Ms Gofton says her pub was being blamed for incidents that happened outside – and says she’s so fed up for taking the rap for things that are not the fault of the pub that she has handed the keys back.

‘I’ve had a gutfull of it,’ said Ms Gofton who says she feels that police are ‘picking on’ anyone in the pub trade.

‘I’ve done everything I’ve been asked to do. I had a CCTV system in that covered my property and my entrance, and I was told it needed to be extended, so five weeks ago I had a new system put in that stretches almost to Tesco’s car park. That cost me £2,500.

‘I’ve had door staff on, and I’ve put all my staff through licensing - I’m one of the only pubs in Portsmouth to have done that.’

The News reported today that pub owner the EI Group – the new name for Enterprise Inns – has written to the licensing committee asking it not to revoke the premises licence of the pub as the police suggest. Instead the company says that removing Ms Gofton would be ‘an appropriate response’.

Ms Gofton, 66, believes that EI has ‘thrown her under the bus’.

‘They’ve done nothing for me,’ she said.

She added: ‘I have no choice now but to go bankrupt. EI say that I owe then £30,000 but I don’t have that money. I’ve never taken a penny from that pub – I put in everything I had; I sold my house, and pawned my jewellery, and put it all into the pub. I think EI have something up their sleeves that they are not telling me about as I had four years to run on my lease.’

Ms Gofton says she will miss the ‘pub family’ of her regulars, and says that having long-standing landlords and landladies is a bonus because they know who the unwelcome customers are.

‘I know who the wrong ‘uns are and I had the wrong ‘uns barred,’ she said. ‘But we had some lovely customers. I used to do Christmas dinners for them, and we were the only pub in the centre of Portsmouth that cooked all our meals from fresh. We had regular visitors from Brighton and Bognor Regis, and even a woman from Norway who would stay with us every year.’