Minimum pricing hits Portsmouth

By John Harrington

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: License

Police: close scrutiny of pubs and clubs
Police: close scrutiny of pubs and clubs
Licensees have made a "voluntary agreement" not to sell drinks below £1.50. Eleven bars made the agreement following a spate of violence.

Licensees in an area of Portsmouth have made a "voluntary agreement" not to sell drinks below £1.50.

Eleven bars in the Guildhall Walk area made the agreement at a pubwatch meeting following a spate of violence.

It's the latest example of a minimum pricing agreement emerging under police pressure. Trade experts have warned that licensees risk prosecution under competition law because they can be seen as price-fixing.

"It came off the back of police cracking down on irresponsible drinks promotions," said one licensee, who declined to be named.

"A lot of places were doing £1 drinks and doubles for ridiculous prices. We decided to be proactive and introduce a voluntary scheme."

However, JD Wetherspoon has declined to take part in the agreement. "We don't agree with minimum pricing," said spokesman Eddie Gershon. "It's not pricing that affects how a pub is run, it's the quality of the staff."

Morning Advertiser legal editor Peter Coulson said: "The fact is they are price fixing, which is unlawful. Even if the police sanction it, this doesn't make it lawful."

The move follows a spate of violent incidents in the area.

Yates in Guildhall Walk re-opened last Friday after agreeing to a licence suspension, among 10 other conditions, following an assault outside that led to the death of a man. A licence review is set for 23 June.

After the incident in May, police said they'd inspect every bar locally for licence condition adherence.

Chief Superintendent David Peacock said: "If you fall short, we'll bring you before the council's licensing committee and, where appropriate, apply for your licence to be revoked."

A Yates's spokesman said: "We are active members of pubwatch groups throughout the country and work closely with authorities to promote Licensing Act objectives. Any requests for operational changes are reviewed on a site-by-site basis."

Related topics: Legislation

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