Licence suspended at 'poorly managed' Chipping Sodbury pub

The Portcullis Hotel in Chipping Sodbury has had its licence suspended for three months

The Portcullis Hotel in Chipping Sodbury has had its licence suspended for three months

First published in News Gazette Series: Photograph of the Author Exclusive by , reporter covering Yate, Chipping Sodbury, Winterbourne, Frampton Cotterell, Rangeworthy, Wickwar, Hawkesbury, Iron Acton, Coalpit Heath and Old Sodbury

A CHIPPING Sodbury pub has had its licence suspended for three months after ‘flagrantly breaching’ conditions and being dubbed one of the top 10 trouble hot spots in South Gloucestershire.

The Portcullis Hotel, on Horse Street, must cease all licensable activities by 11.30pm and close by midnight seven nights a week, South Gloucestershire Council’s licensing panel ruled today.

But licence holder Jenna Hale told the Gazette the pub, which opens until 2am Thursday to Saturday, will take the decision to magistrates’ court on appeal.

She said: "We are extremely disappointed with the decision but we do plan to appeal it."

The appeal means the 300-capacity venue can continue operating as it had been for 21 days, securing crucial extra custom over the busy Christmas period.

Neighbourhood Inspector Andy Workman, who sparked the review, said he had ‘no confidence’ in the management of the pub.

He said: "The High Street of Chipping Sodbury has the biggest concentration of licensed premises in South Gloucestershire. Very few cause me much concern but unfortunately since I was appointed last October, the Portcullis has constantly been a concern."

He said of 1,282 call outs in the Thornbury and Chipping Sodbury area since January 2012, 21 were to the Portcullis.

"That is 1.6 per cent of all calls this year," said Insp Workman. "That stands out as a remarkable achievement unfortunately. To get that many calls is incredible."

He said not being called to the venue at weekends was a rarity and police were so in demand at the pub other rural areas were suffering as a result. He said a top 10 of all calls for service in South Gloucestershire, topped by Tesco Extra in Yate, included only one pub – the Portcullis.

The panel heard how GBH, theft and assault had all been reported at the pub, door staff were said to regularly use excessive force to eject people from the venue and a condition not to allow anyone in after 11pm was repeatedly flouted.

Resident Nick Guerney, of Horse Street, said: "I have expressed my concerns over a long time but conditions are breached so often it is farcical.

"I regret to say I regard the Portcullis as a poorly managed pub which attracts a certain clientele who seem to enjoy making a nuisance of themselves."

Portcullis barrister Yan Lopez said police did not distinguish between incidents and crimes and evidence presented was ‘ad-hoc’. He urged the panel to employ a dispersal policy instead of a change in opening hours which he said would kill the business.

But Cllr Shirley Potts (Lab, Staple Hill) said: "A high volume of reported incidents of crime and disorder are attributed to the Portcullis, placing an unacceptable demand on police resources and there are constant breaches of conditions especially one which prevents entry after 11pm.

"We are not persuaded this could be resolved with a dispersal policy.

"There are clear links between the opening hours and crime and disorder on Friday and Saturday nights. This committee considers the flagrant breach of conditions justifies a three-month suspension of the premises licence.

"We consider the Portcullis has been poorly managed and we are not convinced a new designated premises supervisor (DPS) will be able to manage any better."

She ordered newly-appointed DPS Stacey Head be removed from her position.

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