A rowdy Brighton bar has been allowed to stay open after successfully appealing against its drinks licence being revoked – but will still have to close for three months and reopen with restricted hours.
Oxygen in West Street lost its licence in May after city councillors were told about assaults, excessive drunkenness, vulnerable customers and unacceptable drinks promotions, including a “the more you drink, the cheaper it gets” offer two days before the hearing.
Sussex Police had originally asked Brighton and Hove City Council to suspend its licence. But at the licensing panel hearing on Friday 1 May it said it should have asked for a revocation as it was clear Oxygen was not taking the matter seriously- and councillors agreed.
But yesterday, Brighton magistrates downgraded this to a suspension and cut its opening hours from 3.30am to 12.30am, with a requirement for electronic ID scanners to be used on the door.
Sussex Police’s head of licensing Jean Irving said: “We’re a little bit disappointed. The police and the council both said we have absolutely no confidence in them to maintain those changes.
“They have been caught serving five underage children and are still trading, which is a record in the whole of Sussex. I’m not aware of any other premises which have had two reviews against them and are still trading.
“They were cocking a snook at the licensing authority.
“That said, the justices have imposed a three-month suspension which isn’t appealable. We will be monitoring the premises very closely and they’re now closed over Christmas and new year.”
A council spokeswoman said “We feel vindicated since the court did not criticise our decision. And the appeal process has given the premises time to clean up its act.
“We are satisfied that we will achieve our licensing objective of making this a safer venue.”
The premises licence had previously been reviewed in 2009 after three test purchases where children were sold alcohol on each occasion.
Additional concerns of the police were that the premises has a licence for a cafe/bar but that food had not been seen by officers.
Additionally, the cafe/bar conditions were not being kept to and intoxication levels were unacceptably high at the premises.