Brighton seafront venue looks to prove itself to licensing chiefs

A Brighton seafront venue has asked for a chance to prove itself by selling alcohol without customers having to have a meal.

But Sussex Police objected to plans by zipwire operator Brighton Zip to sell alcohol over three consecutive weekends from its premises in Madeira Drive.

The business previously had a drinks licence with “restaurant conditions” that required customers to have a meal if they were drinking.

The licence lapsed during corporate changes and the new owner, Madeira Leisure, has applied for a licence with more relaxed “café conditions”.

These would require the venue to make “substantial food” available but customers could order drinks without having to have a meal.

In the meantime, Brighton Zip wants to use temporary event notices (TENs) to enable the venue to serve drinks legally until it can secure a new premises licence.

It wants to sell alcohol from noon to 11pm this weekend, on the Halloween weekend (Saturday 30 October and Sunday 31 October) and on Saturday 6 November and Sunday 7 November.

Sussex Police licensing officer Claire Abdulkader said that Halloween had surpassed New Year’s Eve as an alcohol-led celebration, and the venue’s proximity to the beach was an increased risk.

She told a Brighton and Hove City Council licensing panel hearing today (Wednesday 20 October) that volunteers from the Beach Patrol regularly found “intoxicated” people on the shore or in the sea, putting lives in danger.

Information provided by the business on crowd management had “bar and pub language”, she said, making reference to calling last orders and drinking up time, rather than focusing on food.

She said: “This set up is more of a bar situation than a true café in the spirit of what is set out in the licensing policy.

“The beach is a high-risk area of Brighton and Hove with the unique dangers of the sea combined with alcohol consumption.

“The risk of persons becoming intoxicated in this area of the town remains a priority concern for police and their partner agencies.

“By Brighton Zip operating as a bar, there is an increased risk of higher intoxication levels making people vulnerable.”

Brighton Zip’s solicitor Niall McCann said that the previous restaurant licence was not ideal because the venue was a place for friends and families to meet, eat and socialise.

Mr McCann said: “It is difficult to enforce the sale of alcohol with a table meal 100 per cent of the time with a casual menu of light bites.

“It is difficult with the previous style of operation when people queued up to order and had their food delivered via waiter and waitress service.”

Madeira Leisure was preparing to request a variation to its licence – to café conditions – when the company learnt that liquidating the former owner Happyvale, to bring everything under one corporate umbrella, meant that the licence lapsed.

There had never been trouble at the venue, Mr McCann told the panel of three councillors, and the TENs gave the business an opportunity to prove itself.

The panel retired to make its decision which should be made public within five working days.

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