Rise in disorder with Guildhall Walk leads to fears over takeaway’s 5am licence bid

Ken's Kebabs
Ken's Kebabs
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Beachbuggin on Southsea Common. Picture: Allan Hutchings

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A RISE in disorder within the Guildhall Walk area has led to objections against a takeaway being granted a 5am licence.

Following a string of extended licences being awarded to clubs and takeaways in Portsmouth’s main clubbing area this year, Ken’s Kebabs is seeking to extend its licensing hours.

The analysis also shows that more incidents are occurring at a later time in the evening compared to last year which may be a direct result of later opening hours being granted in the CI area.

Nikki Humphreys, Portsmouth City Council’s licensing manager in her submission to sub-licensing committee

The shop was stripped of its 3am licence earlier this year after former owner Naseem Ahmed admitted illegally trading after operating hours. However, after having its licence granted in April under new owner Usman Ahmed, it is hoping to capitalise on a return to the late-night scene in Guildhall Walk.

Gida Express became the first takeaway in the area to be granted a 5am licence earlier this year with nightclubs The Astoria and Pryzm also granted 3am midweek licences in a bid to catch the weeknight trade following a surge in the number of students living in the area.

However, the area is monitored by the city council and police as a cumulative impact (CI) zone – set up to crack down on disorder – and following Ken’s Kebabs’ application, alarming figures have been revealed by the council’s licensing manager Nikki Humphreys to deter councillors on the sub-licensing committee from extending the licence.

In her submission to the committee she revealed that the number of offences in the area during Freshers Week last month increased from five to 19 on last year, including nine offences of actual bodily harm.

It was also revealed that more incidents were happening between 1am and 5am in the street within the Guildhall Walk area with the number increasing from two to 10 in the last year.

Ms Humphreys wrote: ‘Worryingly, the figures have significantly increased from last year and it is clear that there has been a rise in crime and disorder in the CI area where incidents are not associated with specific premises.

‘Equally, the analysis also shows that more incidents are occurring at a later time in the evening compared to last year which may be a direct result of later opening hours being granted in the CI area.

‘By increasing the opening hours until 5am every day, I am of the view that there will be an undoubtable increase in existing problems thereby introducing additional incidents of crime, disorder and public nuisance than currently exists in the CI area.’

PC Peter Rackham, licensing officer at Hampshire Constabulary also called for the amendment not to be granted in his submission to the committee, writing that it would lead to ‘a negative impact on the CIZ’.

In its application to the council, the shop’s lawyer Jon Wallsgrove wrote: ‘Gida, which is directly opposite the premises was recently granted a licence to provide late night refreshment until 5am each day. If Ken’s Kebab’s were permitted to open until 5am this would benefit the area as it will assist in the quicker dispersal of persons who are already in the area at that time and wish to purchase food.’

A decision on the application will be made on Wednesday at Portsmouth Guildhall from 9.30am.