Regulars at Duke of Devonshire in Southsea are 'over the moon' at Portsmouth City Council licensing decision to let it stay open amid 'false' accusations

PUNTERS were ‘over the moon’ and left toasting the decision to allow a popular family pub keep its licence amid closure threats following recent incidents.

Sunday, 22nd August 2021, 3:21 pm
Updated Sunday, 22nd August 2021, 3:37 pm
Punters at Duke of Devonshire on Albert Road, Southsea, celebrate pub keeping its licence

Worried regulars of the Duke of Devonshire said it would have been unfair if the Southsea watering hole would have been forced to close its doors following police reports of sexual assaults, underage alcohol sales, alleged drugs misuse and a mass brawl.

But locals blasted ‘false’ reports of incidents and blamed a small minority of non-regulars for causing trouble at the pub, which is in the heart of popular Albert Road.

On Friday, a Portsmouth City Council licensing sub-committee agreed it could keep its licence subject to conditions temporarily introduced earlier this month – including a requirement to have security on the door – being made permanent.

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Punters at Duke of Devonshire on Albert Road, Southsea, celebrate pub keeping its licence on August 21, 2021. Pic: Tom Yaman.

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Councillors agreed to enforce a series of new conditions to the pub's licence to reduce the risk of future incidents in the run-up to Friday's full review.

This included a requirement to have bouncers on busier days, an upgraded CCTV system and extra staff training.

Landlord Tam Yaman, speaking after trading for the first time following the decision, told The News: ‘We are very happy with the decision. We are not 100 per cent innocent and have had some issues.

‘But we are trying to put things right and have lots of new measures which are working well.’

Despite being happy with the decision to allow the pub to stay open, punters were scathing at how the Duke was nearly shut down.

Southsea regular Andy Gurr, 61, said: ‘It’s a nice family pub. I used to come here with my wife and now come here with my new partner. I wouldn’t bring her here if there was going to be fights. She feels perfectly safe. I’ve never seen any trouble here.

‘Some of the accusations made have proved false.’

‘Tom is a lovely landlord. You always get a warm welcome. It’s the heart of the community.

‘The council did the right to keep it open. I’m over the moon.’

Len Wheatcroft, 57, still visits the pub every week despite moving away to Havant. He said: ‘It’s a quiet little pub. I think there were some rowdy youngsters who were causing trouble on a couple of evenings. Most of us in here are over 50.

‘It was ridiculous how the pub was put across as being trouble (at the council meeting). There were just a handful of idiots.

‘I’m over the moon it is staying open.’

Jim McInnes, 52, of Southsea, said: ‘I was worried the pub would be shut down so am delighted it is staying open. It is deserved and the right outcome.

‘It would have been unfair if it had closed. Tom and Sam (Tom’s wife) have put in a lot of work to the pub and refurbished it.

‘It is a traditional family run pub with a very friendly atmosphere. Trouble is not tolerated - Tom has his family upstairs.

‘A few individuals spoiled the atmosphere and caused trouble on the odd occasion.’

Adam Harrison, 29, still regularly visits the pub despite now living in Winchester. He said: ‘When I moved down here two years ago I knew no-one and everyone welcomed me with open arms in the pub.

‘When I was on furlough and my job fell through they supported me every step of the way. They are like a family to me.

‘I’ve never seen any trouble here in the time I’ve been coming here. It’s an old-fashioned family pub. It’s the sort of place you can come by yourself and you will know someone and everyone will make you feel welcome.

‘It would have been a real travesty if it had shut so it’s a relief it’s staying open.’

A message from the Editor, Mark Waldron

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