A NIGHTCLUB has had its hours extended until 3am midweek after councillors criticised police evidence advising against it.
The Astoria, Portsmouth’s largest nightclub, joined Pryzm yesterday as being able to stay open later from Sunday to Thursday.
Councillors on the city council’s licensing committee granted the variation after 90 minutes of deliberations yesterday and four hours of committee proceedings last Wednesday.
Both Hampshire Constabulary and the council’s own licensing manager had objected to the application on the grounds that amending the licence would have a detrimental effect on the Guildhall Walk area.
The force issued a stern warning to the council ahead of the decision, revealing that of the most serious offences committed in Portsmouth under the influence of alcohol last year, 70 per cent happened between 8pm and 4am.
However, Councillor Ian Lyon, chairman of the committee said that he was convinced in The Astoria’s ability to run the premises well and that the evidence produced by the police was not substantial to warrant the application being rejected.
The evidence which was produced in front of us was interesting but not enough to persuade us that there would be a negative impact on the Guildhall Walk should the licence be extended.Councillor Ian Lyon, chairman of the licensing sub-committee
He said: ‘It was granted as the applicant demonstrated that they run a well-managed premises and because they were asked to prove a negative.
‘The evidence which was produced in front of us was interesting, but not enough to persuade us that there would be a negative impact on the Guildhall Walk should the licence be extended.’
When providing evidence during proceedings last week, PC Pete Rackham, licensing officer, told councillors: ‘There is a huge issue with violence in the area.
‘The violence in Guildhall Walk is far higher when it is compared with other areas such as Palmerston Road and Osborne Road that have more licensed premises.’
Phillip Day, the club’s solicitor, had also previously argued that by having two clubs open later during the week, it would help disperse students and decrease violence.
Cllr Lyon agreed that having two clubs open at the same time ‘made sense’ rather than clubbers only having one establishment to attend.
He also added that the police’s statistics for the area did not provide any breakdown in terms of the number of incidents related to each club and therefore could not influence the decision. The club was previously licensed until 2am during the week.