Police have warned that pouring drinks into real glasses on board the i360 could allow them to be used as weapons – no matter how posh the drinks or customers.
The i360 wants to remove a handful of conditions from its licence to allow it to use real glass, to allow customers to take drinks from one area of the building to another more freely, and even off the site completely, and to allow so-called vertical drinking – ie, drinking while standing – in its restaurant.
A Brighton and Hove City Council licensing panel is due to decide its application next Wednesday (28 March) and has received representations from police, licensing officers and the Brighton Old Town Local Action Team (LAT), which is made up of residents and traders.
The i360’s application said: “Our current licence was issued before the attraction opened and contained many restrictions on the sale and consumption of alcohol on the premises.
“Having now traded for 18 months, we are in a much stronger position to understand our visitors, the operation of the site and the service limitations the current licence gives us.
“We would therefore like to adjust our licence to reflect our customers’ expectations and increase customer satisfaction.
“The demographic of our visitor is, in the main, family and more mature and we therefore feel this group is able to act appropriately … our products are at the high end of the market with price points to match.
“We would also like to remove the condition relating to vertical drinking within our restaurant, the West Beach Bar and Kitchen.
”The area contains a very well proportioned bar and is in the centre of the space creating a large area capable of serving customers who are not seated and allowing them to drink within the bar area, restaurant or terraces.”
Inspector Di Lewis, Sussex Police’s licensing and response inspector, objected to some of the proposed changes to the licence, in particular the request to be able to use real glass.
She said: “Any person despite their age or demographic could use a broken glass as a weapon while in the pod.
“Care is taken to remove knives and sharp implements from the public when entering the pod and the introduction of glass drinking vessels could increase the risk of injury to the public as they could be used as a weapon if broken.”
She said that removing the restriction on people taking alcohol from one area of the complex to another would in effect make the whole site a vertical drinking area and glass could be picked up from one area and taken on to the pod or out on to the beach.
Chair of the Brighton Old Town LAT Debbie Gibson-Leigh objected to the removal of the condition that drinkers must be seated.
She said: “Removal of this condition will just turn this venue into another large seafront bar, with the potential of causing further anti-social behaviour and noise nuisance to residents who live along the seafront.
“The applicants state that ‘the demographic of our visitor is a low risk’. This may be the case for visitors paying to visit the pod but you do not need to pay to enter the West Beach Bar and Kitchen and therefore this establishment has no different a demographic than other licensed premises on the seafront.”
Senior licensing officer Sarah Cornell asked the licensing panel to uphold the council’s policy of not saturating the city centre with licensed premises but said it was up to the panel to decide if the i360 had demonstrated the exceptional circumstances required to override this.
Steve Bax, executive director said: “I appreciate the concerns raised by both the licensing authority and the police, however we are not a high street bar or night club.
“It is also worth noting that we have 24-hour security presence on site with staff positioned in all areas. Our duty managers are also trained to SIA standards.
“We are therefore in a strong position to ensure our visitors are safe at all times and to actively manage any incidents that may occur on or around our premises before they become an issue.”