The owner of a licensed cafe says she is bemused by a flood of objections to her bid to be able to sell beer from elderly neighbours who claim her existing customers regularly pee and poo in their garden.
Elina Sellings already has a licence to sell wine and spirits at Oseta Cafe in North Road, and has applied to extend this to beer and cider.
The licence runs until 10pm each night, but the cafe typically closes at 4pm every day unless there is a function or, as has happened twice, it is being hired by a pop up restaurant.
But residents of two neighbouring sheltered accommodation blocks have objected on the grounds that her customers use their gardens as a toilet.
And she says that in recent weeks, members of the public have come into the cafe to either catch her out by asking her to break her licensing conditions – or quiz her on the running of her business.
Ms Sellings, who opened the cafe two years ago, said: “It’s not something that’s happening because we are here. We are a tiny little cafe.
“We have had the problem of people urinating for many years now. I can see people gathering on the corner, or selling drugs or shooting up, doing something they shouldn’t.
“I hear all the people coming from the pubs late at night. I know there’s a problem but I can’t see how our cafe is contributing to it. It’s only when we have a pop up or a function that we open later. I live upstairs and come down to make sure everything’s okay.
“We do have a toilet. The layout is quite old so you do have to go through the kitchen, but it’s our kitchen is tiny. It’s not that unusual.
“Nobody has actually said anything to us. The managers of the schemes are customers here. Quite a lot of customers of ours are from those schemes – they have used our cafe for birthdays.
“We want to be able to sell beer because sometimes we have things like book clubs or birthday parties and people are asking for beer. We currently only sell about two or three bottles of wine a month.
“It feels like harassment.”
One objection from a resident of Alfred Davey House said: “Some of the patrons of the Oseta feel they have carte blanche to use our beautiful garden as a substitute for a toilet.
“Plus due to the consumption of spirits and beer, this invariably leads to fights and vomit and tragedy.”
Another said: “The one major problem with the Oseta Cafe is the lack of a toilet for the use of patrons. The entrance way to Alfred Davey Court is just outside the cafe door. We have a garden area that is regularly used as a urinal and occasionally used for defecation.
“This is a daily occurrence in the summer months, and it matters not that it is daylight or darkness.”
Sandy Crowhurst and Roy Skam of the North Laine Community Association also wrote to ask that the application is refused, adding: “We are concerned that for some months now Oseta Cafe has been operating under the name Pakal Taco Bar from 6pm – 10.30pm on Wednesdays to Saturdays selling imported beers. Before that it was also operating under another name until late in the evenings.”
Ms Sellings said that she had applied last year to change the condition that no beer or cider should be sold because the taco bar wanted to sell imported beers, and that the licensing department had told her she could already do this and refunded her fee.
It was only when complaints were made to the police that the licensing department confirmed that she did need to apply.
Her application will be heard by Brighton and Hove City Council’s licensing committee tomorrow.