Portsmouth landlady hits out after being blamed for ‘mismanaging’ closed pub

  • Landlady blamed for ‘mismanaging’ The Painters Arms
  • Pub has experienced a violent 2017 with a man’s earlobe being bitten off
  • Landlady defends reputation, saying she has been ‘thrown under the bus’
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A PUB landlady has been blamed for ‘mismanaging’ a city pub which witnessed a surge of violence this year.

Closed Landport pub The Painters Arms had its licence suspended yesterday for four weeks after a city council hearing.

Bernice Crofton at The Painters Arms

Bernice Crofton at The Painters Arms

The meeting of the Licensing sub-committee had been called by Hampshire Police following ‘a cycle of violence’ at the establishment this year – which includes a man’s earlobe being bitten off.

Bernice Gofton, the pub’s landlady, handed back the keys to freehold owners – The EI Group – last week ahead of the meeting, but says she feels ‘appalled’ after the company blamed the rise in violence at the establishment on her management.

Addressing councillors, Clare Johnson, representing the EI Group – formerly Enterprise Inns – said: ‘It is not the premises that’s the problem. It is the management.

‘Selling alcohol beyond licensed hours is completely unacceptable and the escalation in incidents comes down to how tight you run the premises.’

It is not the premises that’s the problem. It is the management.

Clare Johnson, representing the EI Group, pub freehold owners

In a detailed police report submitted to the committee, licensing officer PC Pete Rackham detailed a number of incident, including the selling of alcohol to customers by drunken bar staff and violent attacks between customers.

Ms Gofton, 66, said she was being ‘thrown under the bus’ by the EI Group.

She said: ‘I am appalled about what Enterprise have said about me.

‘They have never helped me out since I took over the pub in 2008. They are bang out of order and have pulled a fast one on me.

‘I’ve run that pub for nine years so I would not have been able to do that with bad management now would I?’

The committee decided not to remove the licence but suspended it until November 24 and imposed a series of conditions which includes the provision of door staff at the premises.


THE closure of the Painters Arms has hit its community ‘hard’, its outgoing landlord said.

Bernice Gofton, former landlady who returned the keys to the establishment last week said the pub had ‘built a family’ over her nine-year reign.

She said: ‘I have sought to give back to homeless charities, disabled customers and anyone who needed my help over the last nine years.

‘To many people, this pub was their social life. We’ve put on fake weddings, served £2 Christmas dinners and donated leftovers to the homeless. We are a family here and this is going to hit a lot of them hard.’