Easter ban over under-age sale will hit takings

The White Horse, Southsea
The White Horse, Southsea
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A POPULAR pub faces losing up to £15,000 on one of the busiest bank holidays of the year after being caught selling alcohol to children.

The White Horse in Southsea Terrace, Southsea, has been slapped with a 48-hour closure order for selling alcohol to under-18s twice in three months,

Police have ordered the pub to shut from 9pm on Good Friday until 9pm on April 24 – covering virtually all of the Easter bank holiday weekend when the pub, which overlooks Southsea Common, is traditionally packed with people enjoying the long weekend

The bar has two weeks to decide whether to accept the decision – or face prosecution. Police were recently given new powers under the Licensing Act to impose 48-hour closure orders on premises caught selling alcohol to under-18s twice in a three-month period.

The White Horse is the first in Portsmouth to be caught under the new rules.

Manager Lynn Reed, who runs the pub with husband David, claims the pub is being unfairly targeted. She says the pub has put extra training and a written test in place for staff since failing the police test purchase operations in September and December.

They have also put posters up displaying the ‘Challenge 25’ policy to ask anyone who looks under 25 for ID.

Mrs Reed said: ‘We are appalled with the way they’ve dealt with us. We feel physically sick about the whole thing.

‘We have been here for about two years, and my husband and I have been running pubs together for about 15 years.

‘It is a respectable family business. We feel we are being targeted.

‘We will be about £15,000-worth of sales down. We know we have committed an offence and are happy to accept the conditions that go with what has happened, but we don’t feel it was done in a fair way.’

PC Keith Hall from Portsmouth’s alcohol-related violent crime reduction and licensing team said: ‘If the practices which caused a first sale to minors are repeated then the lessons from the first incident are not being learned.

‘That goes for off-licences and for on-licensed premises like pubs and clubs.

‘Our operations are intelligence-led and often achieve higher failure rates because we already suspect the venues are flouting the law.

‘A number of premises have failed test purchase operations and we are disappointed by this, whatever excuses are given.

‘We need to change the culture about challenging ID in every venue in the city, be it pub or convenience store. We need all licensees to rigidly enforce the law.’