COMMENT: Guildhall Walk has improved, but it’s still far from perfect

Lesley says you can keep the white stuff, thank you! 
Picture: Owen Humphreys/PA Wire

LESLEY KEATING: It was almost perfect until cable firm scuppered it

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Back in 2011, Guildhall Walk in Portsmouth’s city centre held the dubious honour of being named the most violent street in England and Wales.

Since then the police and city council have worked closely to implement a raft of measures which have improved the situation.

The closure of Walkabout in 2012 – it was converted into a Sainsbury’s – and the opening of a craft beer pub, the Brewhouse & Kitchen, have helped bring a more diverse crowd to the area.

Yet while the level of violent crime has decreased, the situation is still far from perfect.

Last year, when The Astoria asked for, and was ultimately granted, an extension to its weekend opening hours from 2am to 3.30am, the police raised serious concerns.

With the newly-revamped Pryzm nightclub (the former Liquid & Envy) being given permission to open midweek until 3.30am, it’s no surprise that The Astoria has followed suit with a similar request.

The police’s argument is not with the venue’s management. Indeed, they have been praised for the tight ship they run.

Many of the problems, though, happen once punters spill back out on to the street in the early hours.

Given the permission already granted to Prysm, it may be hard for the licensing committee to refuse The Astoria, particularly when the venue itself has not been identified as a source of trouble. And we can understand its commercial reasoning for wanting to be on an equal footing with rivals.

But we would be concerned if the extended opening hours forced the police into diverting already-stretched resources.

Perhaps it would be possible to run the extended hours for a trial period and, if there is an an impact, then a final decision can be made.