Police and officials oppose drinks licence for Brighton shared office business

A business which rents out work space in Brighton faces opposition from police and council licensing officials to its application for a licence to sell drinks.

There are concerns that another licensed premises could add to the crime and disorder in the centre of Brighton on Friday and Saturday nights, with the potential for greater public nuisance.

The Werks, the owner of nine premises in Brighton and Hove where space is rented to freelancers and small businesses, wants a “premises licence” for the Werks Central, in Middle Street, Brighton.

It already has a café at its creative hub – formerly the Brighton Media Centre – but wants to be able to sell alcohol from 11am to 11pm seven days a week.

The premises licence application also seeks permission from Brighton and Hove City Council to host live music, indoor sporting events and film screenings.

Inspector Di Lewis, from Sussex Police, said: “Middle Street and the surrounding area is home to a number of bars, restaurants and off-licences. It also falls within the Operation Marble area.”

Operation Marble is “the police response to policing the night-time economy”.

Inspector Lewis said: “Incidents over the last six months within Middle Street include violent crime, drunk and disorderly persons and robberies.

“A number of victims are often targeted due their vulnerable state while under the influence of alcohol.”

Licensing officer Donna Lynsdale said: “The premises is situated in the electoral ward of Regency, which … is ranked (out of 21 wards) the worst for ‘alcohol-suspected ambulance call-outs’ and second worst for ‘police-recorded alcohol-related incidents’ which both further highlight the impact that licensed premises in the area can have on crime and disorder and public nuisance.”

She said: “The licensing team has concerns that the application could have a negative impact on the licensing objectives of prevention of crime and disorder and public nuisance.”

She said that the premises fell within the council’s “cumulative impact area” where the council restricts new licences to sell alcohol.

She also said that the “numbers of people drawn into the city centre is causing exceptional problems of crime and disorder and public nuisance”.

“Applications for new premises licences should normally be refused,” she said.

“The applicant can rebut this presumption of refusal if they can show that their application will have no negative cumulative impact on licensing objectives, including prevention of crime and disorder and public nuisance.

“It seems to me that despite the applicant putting in some measures they still have not demonstrated a potential exception to our policy and has not addressed the extra hours being applied for.”

Inspector Lewis said: “The applicant has been very open and willing to consult with police during the consultation period and has agreed to a number of conditions should a licence be granted.

“Though Sussex Police do believe these conditions go some way to promote the licensing objectives and not enable the location to become an alcohol-led premises, ie, a bar, the location is within the CIA and in an area that suffers its fair share of alcohol-linked crime and disorder.”

She felt that the application should be decided by a council licensing panel.

A hearing has been scheduled for next Friday (1 February) at 10am at Hove Town Hall before a panel consisting of Labour councillor Jackie O’Quinn, Conservative councillor Lynda Hyde and Green councillor Dick Page.

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