Failings over alcohol sales to teens at Portsmouth hotel leads to national review from operator

Holiday Inn Express in Farlington was caught serving alcohol to children
Holiday Inn Express in Farlington was caught serving alcohol to children
A row of parking spaces and a pay and display machine along Pier Road, Portsmouth. Credit: Geograph (labelled for reuse)

Phone app will help drivers find empty parking spaces in Portsmouth

  • Holiday Inn Express suspended for selling alcohol for four days next month
  • Sale of alcohol to three teenagers sparked review of Atlas Hotel’s chains across the UK
  • New stricter licensing conditions now in place
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A CITY hotel has been banned from selling alcohol for four days after being caught serving children.

Holiday Inn Express in Portsmouth was given the suspension order yesterday.

What happened in Portsmouth was used as a lesson. These measures have been introduced across Atlas’ 47 hotels in the UK.

Philip Kolvin QC, representing Atlas Hotels

It came after the hotel in Eastern Road, Farlington, was caught selling alcohol to 16-year-olds on three separate occasions earlier this year.

Councillors on the city council’s licensing sub-committee made the decision at a meeting yesterday.

They were told the failings at the Farlington hotel led to a ‘significant review’ of Holiday Inn’s alcohol safety procedure across the country.

The site is one of 47 owned by Atlas Hotels.

Its solicitor Philip Kolvin QC said that the licence review was the first time an Atlas-owned hotel had faced a premises licence review and that it was the first time in 20 years one of its hotels had faced an alcohol test purchase.

He told the committee: ‘On behalf of my client, they are extremely sorry that they have failed these test purchases. They will go above and beyond to ensure these events are not replicated.’

The hotel failed two alcohol test purchases by police involving an 16-year-old in March and April.

This led to a four-day closure notice in May and a substantial review of the hotel’s Challenge 25 policies.

But this was later breached in July this year for a third time when the new guest service manager – who had only joined two weeks previously – sold alcohol to a 16-year-old and was later fired.

The hotel put new stern measures in place, such as ensuring mandatory Challenge 25 training, putting all of its duty managers through training to be personal licence holders in addition to a ‘card only’ policy for alcohol purchases.

Mr Kolvin added: ‘What happened in Portsmouth was used as a lesson.

‘These measures have been introduced across Atlas’ 47 hotels in the UK.

‘My client is embarrassed and ashamed to be here. They are not looking to come back here again.’

Since August, the hotel has faced three new alcohol test purchases, passing all three.

Atlas agreed ahead of the meeting that a four-day suspension would be a ‘fair way’ of dealing with the failings. The suspension will run from September 22.

Explaining the committee’s decision, Councillor Scott Harris, who chaired the meeting said: ‘The committee was satisfied with what the hotel has done to rectify the 

‘The hotel’s reputation will take a hit on this but they have gone to strong lengths to show they are putting the changes in place to ensure this does not happen again.