Southsea pub firm wins Easter booze ban reprieve

The White Horse, Southsea
The White Horse, Southsea

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A PUB has escaped a police ban on alcohol sales over the Easter bank holiday after agreeing a deal.

Police had served a 48-hour closure order on the White Horse pub in Southsea Terrace, Southsea, for what is traditionally one of the busiest weekends of the year.

The punishment came after it was caught selling alcohol to under-18s twice in three months during ‘sting’ operations.

But now it will be allowed to open as normal that weekend after reaching an agreement with police and Portsmouth City Council trading standards officials.

Instead the pub will not sell alcohol from 11am on April 9 to 11am on April 11. But it will still open for business and will be able to serve food and soft drinks.

The venue has also agreed to attend all Pubwatch meetings and meet a trading standards official to review staff training.

Ted Friswell, operations director for Merlin Inns, which owns the pub, said: ‘The punishment they were enforcing on us was disproportionate to the offence. Apart from those two test purchases there is no suggestion at any time that the pub sells alcohol to under-age people.

‘We submitted a revised proposal as to when we were to close.

‘It just made no sense at all, given the degree of the alleged offence, that we should not be allowed to sell alcohol on one of the busiest weekends of the year.’

PC Keith Hall, from Portsmouth’s alcohol-related violent crime reduction and licensing team, said: ‘The fact that we have managed to negotiate is positive, but the seriousness of the offence is something that licensees should take notice of – we will take action.’ He added that they will keep targeting licensed premises in sting operations.

Trading standards officer Neil Fitzpatrick said: ‘In the current economic climate, we understand that pubs and clubs are not having an easy time of it and closure orders are not issued lightly. On the other hand, we must uphold the law and prevent under-age alcohol sales.’