Worthing bar ‘almost the victim of continual harassment by police’

A Worthing bar has criticised Sussex Police claiming it is ‘almost the victim of continual harassment’ by the force.

Over the last few years Molotov Cocktail and Vodka Bar in Chatsworth Road has gone through several licensing reviews due to police raising concerns about the way it was being run. As a result, new conditions were added to the licence.

But the bar’s operators have now applied for a brand new premises licence, saying the current one is overcomplicated, out of date and does not reflect changes made to its operation.

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This was discussed by Worthing Borough Council’s licensing and control sub-committee back in February as Sussex Police had raised concerns about both the absence of some of the old conditions on the proposed new licence and with the appointment of a designated premises supervisor (DPS) facing criminal charges.

Molotov in Worthing SUS-190201-110113001

David Dadds, a barrister representing the bar’s owners, argued that the police had not produced any primary evidence to suggest why the new licence should not be granted.

He said: “I’m appalled at their behaviour. Once again, I do now know why it is and I can’t put my finger on it, why on earth they keep on doing this to this premises, this poor premises being almost the victim of continual harassment.”

He quoted Shakespeare’s play Measure for Measure: ‘It is excellent to have a giant’s strength, but it is tyrannous to use it like a giant’, adding: “That’s one of these cases.”

Mr Dadds explained how every review should be dealt with on its own merits and described how two ‘minor’ matters had occurred at the premises in 2018 and two other ‘minor’ incidents in 2019 and another on New Year’s Eve 2020.

He pointed out how the bar was now completely separate from the nightclub a few doors down as this was under different ownership.

He added: “Some of these conditions have been a millstone around their necks which were there because of the nightclub operation.”

Responding to concerns about door staff, he said they would be present at weekends but only on weekdays when risk assessments deemed them necessary.

There were similarly strong words in response from Peter Savill, the barrister representing Sussex Police.

He said: “There is absolutely nothing unlawful in the police’s stance in relation to this application. To suggest otherwise is irrational and unreasonable.”

The police’s position was that historically the licensing authority, which is the council, had imposed conditions and ‘those conditions worked’.

Mr Savill added: “To dismiss the incident in 2019 as minor is wrong, plain wrong. There is a pending prosecution for grevious bodily harm against the DPS and two door supervisors. It is fanciful to suggest that that matter is not a serious matter.”

In response, Mr Dadds described how the country’s justice system operated on the principle of innocent until proven guilty with the case yet to go to trial.

The sub-committee resolved that an amended premises licence be granted as applied for but with the changes to the timings volunteered by the applicant and imposed several extra conditions and amendments.

The committee recommended, but did not impose as a condition, that body worn video cameras are used by door staff.