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Licensee to keep town pub closed

Pub licensee Vinny Mulhern has said a Bognor Regis premises will remain shut – for now.


Mr Mulhern will keep The Unicorn closed until a new management policy is agreed.


His barrister, Duncan Craig, told an Arun District Council hearing into a review of the premises licence for the pub: “Whatever happens today, his premises are not going to be open tonight.


“Mr Mulhern is going to take time to consider and absorb what has happened today and develop the management plan further in order to discharge his duty to promote the licensing objectives.”


Mr Mulhern closed the pub, in High Street, about two months ago. A notice in the window says the move was because of flooding.


The hearing by the council’s licensing sub-committee on Friday imposed a series of conditions on the licence to cover the pub’s operation when it re-opened.


Its chairman, Cllr Andy Cooper, said: “The sub-committee have given this a great deal of consideration and we are satisfied it will be inappropriate to consider the revocation, suspension or any significant reduction in the opening hours.”


But he said its three members wanted to ensure the concerns of Sussex Police, council licensing officers and High Street resident, Marilyn Moore, who called for the review, were taken into account.


This would be achieved by the replacement of the designated premises supervisor and cutting back the hours of live and recorded music and drinking to 45 minutes past midnight on six nights of the week from the current 1am.


They also banned the sale of drinks off the premises after 9pm compared to the present 1am Mondays to Saturdays and 11pm on Sundays.


They added the need for an agreed dispersal policy and the pub’s side exit only to be used after 1am to be added to the premises licence.


A 43-point management plan compiled by Mr Mulhern for the pub would be expected to be adopted as well.


“It is the sub-committee’s hope we do not see you back here again,” said Cllr Cooper.


“We hope we have set everything in place to allow you to move forward and work with your neighbours to make their quiet enjoyment of the area as good as it should be.”


Mrs Moore had told the sub-committee many of the problems were caused by The Unicorn’s late opening hours.


“My life was absolute hell from last April up until December from the goings on outside,” she said. “This was not a one-off. It was night after night after night. I honestly don’t think I could take another year of that.


“I feel that if the licence was reduced to fit in with the 11pm of other pubs it would disperse the youths that hang around out there and the anti-social behaviour, including urinating in the churchyard and taking drugs in the phone box.”


Arun licensing officer Sarah Meerten said the problems stemmed from the fact the pub was open later than others in the area.

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