FEARS over increased drunkenness and under-age drinking have stalled ambitions for a mobile bar next to Southsea Bandstand.
Portsmouth City Council applied for permission to employ a company selling alcohol on the seafront from midday to 9pm during the summer – but was turned down by its own licensing committee.
The application was refused after Hampshire Constabulary raised concerns that it would be next-to-impossible to police such an open area.
Officers said tough restrictions on who could enter and leave the natural seafront amphitheatre would be the only way to prevent disorder or alcohol ending up in the wrong hands.
But seafront manager David Evans – who applied for the licence on behalf of the council – argued that this would ruin the atmosphere of the bandstand.
Acting chairman of the licensing sub-committee, Cllr David Fuller, said he wasn’t opposed to the plan in principle, but that it needed to be approached differently.
He said: ‘The sub-committee felt it was a well-meaning application which attempted to deal with the problem of excessive alcohol being brought to events.
‘But we felt it couldn’t be granted without the area for the bar being clearly identified, so it could be patrolled and monitored.
‘We were also concerned that police powers to stop public drinking in the city would be limited by the granting of a premises licence over such a large, open area.
‘We suggested all parties had further discussions about identifying a specific location for the bar and came back with another application.’
His colleague on the licensing committee, Tory councillor Ken Ellcome, said: ‘Our main concern was that there was insufficient confidence that the area was managed in an effective manner to prevent disorder and under-age sales of alcohol.’
Mr Evans said the rationale behind the application was to discourage people from bringing alcohol to the seafront.
He said: ‘The police asked how we could know alcohol wasn’t going to be passed to people who are under-age.
‘And I didn’t have an answer for that, frankly it is the same as with any other alcohol licence, how do you know what happens after you sell it?
‘They wanted to corral everything and put everything within a fenced-off area, but we didn’t want to do that because it would ruin the whole ambience of the bandstand.’