Beach café must be allowed to serve alcohol

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All those who have enjoyed a Mediterranean beach holiday will have sampled the hospitality of the café at the top of the beach.

After a hard morning’s sunbathing there a few things more pleasant than a stroll across the sand, a seat on the deck and lunch with a cooling beer or glass of wine.

The same applies in the evening.

How often does one see things getting out of hand, with customers tanked up, yelling obscenities and brawling?

Rarely. If ever – even when the Brits are in town en masse.

We, along with most Portsmouth people including the residents of Southsea, agree that action needs to be taken to boost the image and the offer on the seafront.

After all, it’s been stagnating for years – and that was before South Parade Pier started crumbling into the sea and was shut.

And if there’s one part of the prom which needs urgent action it’s the eastern end, the section closest to that pier.

So it’s pleasing to see the soon-to-open Southsea Beach Café looking so stylish and ready to welcome those on the beach, walking past or deliberately heading in its direction. Those visiting it for coffee, food... but not a cooling beer or glass of wine. Yet.

For the café does not possess a licence to sell alcohol. City councillors will decide tomorrow whether to allow it to serve alcohol daily from 11am until 11pm.

We hope they do, despite the objections of some residents who seem to think it will promote a drinking culture.

The café’s owners have promised the authority alcohol will only be served with food and will not be permitted to be taken off the premises. Which seems perfectly reasonable to us. Residents should remember it was not that long ago that a Bacchanalian hell really did exist in the area around the pier.

There was a time when the nightly punch-ups outside the nearby Nero’s/Joanna’s club and those spilling out from the bars on the pier itself was a spectator sport in Portsmouth.

Granting a licence to a beach cafe to serve alcohol with food is hardly signalling a return to those gory days.

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