Southsea bar is denied later opening hours - and is branded a ‘basket case’ by councillors

A SOUTHSEA bar has lost its bid for longer opening hours for a third time after councillors branded its application a 'basket case'.

Thursday, 7th March 2019, 8:06 am
Updated Thursday, 7th March 2019, 9:10 am
The Emporium bar in Southsea Picture: Google

At a planning committee meeting on Wednesday (March 6) the proposal to keep the Emporium Bar in Elm Grove open until 2am on weekends, midnight on Thursdays and 11pm on all other nights was rejected.

Portsmouth City Council officers recommended the refusal on the basis that an extension would lead to unacceptable levels of increased noise and disturbance at unsociable hours.

But councillors were more concerned about the lack of cohesion in the application as it was revealed that part of the venue, number 152 Elm Grove, was not included in the bid even though the bar's manager stated it was used as a cupboard and fire escape.

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Speaking at the meeting Independent Councillor Claire Udy said: 'If this means there is no fire exit or toilets actually in 154 to 156 (the rest of the premises) it is not accessible and it is dangerous. It should not even be a building.

'Officers should have had delegated authority to deal with this. It is a waste of our time.'

Deputy leader of the council, Cllr Steve Pitt, added: 'This means we could potentially see some sort of late night speak easy open in 152 because it is not covered by the same rules as the rest of it.

'I have never come across a premises in my 30 years in the licensing trade where one part of it was left separate.

‘And the licence permission does not match up. It says it can stay open until 9pm on bank holidays including bank holiday Mondays when on other Mondays it is open until 11pm. Why would you want it shut earlier then just because it is a bank holiday? That is so weird. This whole thing is a basket case and someone needs to sit down and sort it out properly. 

‘The applicant may have a good case here but in my view he is not putting his case in the best position.’

For the landlord of the flats above the bar, Shani Wretland, the extended hours would have had a negative impact on the area. 'I am worried about the levels of noise with people convening outside to queue up and to smoke,' she said.

'The bar has capacity for over 120 people and despite assurances that it is sound proofed the noise is audible in the flats above.

'Quite often the DJ will continue to play music past 11pm when it is meant to close.'

But Emporium manager Paul Cobb defended the application. He said: 'In all the time we have been there we have had no police calls to the property. Although we have had two noise complaints they were not substantiated.

'The 2am close times would not be advertised and would not be something we would use every weekend. It would be for private events like weddings. We would look to close at 12am or 12.30am on weekends.'

Outside the meeting he added: 'A decision was made and we have to respect that. The Emporium Bar remain Southsea’s quirkiest and popular venue and we appreciate patrons who enjoy what we offer, we are just sorry we have to ask them to leave at 11pm when they don't want to go elsewhere.'

The venue will have to stick to its current opening hours, closing at 11pm from Monday to Saturday and 9pm on Sundays and public holidays.

Previous applications to extend opening hours at the bar were refused in 2017 and 2018 on the grounds that it would cause too much noise and disturbance.