Chichester’s Christmas ice rink could become ‘a pub in the park’, the city mayor warned today as councillors granted an alcohol licence for the seasonal attraction.
The ice rink, which is expected to open from December 1, was given planning permission along with associated food and drink stalls earlier this month for one year only after debate over the impact on the park area.
Representing the ice rink organisers S3K, Christopher Salmon told the licensing committee this afternoon that he was not looking to invest as ‘a one hit wonder’.
He said: “There’s actually something to do in the evening for a change, so that’s why the hours have reflect that.
“I’m a Chichester boy born and bred, I want something to do in the evenings, so I think we’re just reflecting our own ambition of promoting Chichester and putting a little bit of energy back into it.”
He added that the company had ‘no intention’ of serving alcohol at 9am and agreed to revise licensing hours applied for to 11.30am in accordance with conditions agreed with Sussex Police.
But the proposal was opposed by members of the public and Mayor of Chichester Martyn Bell, who addressed the committee in his capacity as chairman of the city council.
He said: “Will Priory Park become party central at the weekend?
“Please don’t let our rink become a centre of crime and disorder and public nuisance, please make it a safe place for children to thoroughly enjoy with no risk of harm.
“Ice-skating and alcohol just do not mix.”
The committee heard assurances that trained security staff, marshalls and stewards would monitoring guests throughout the evening and would turn away intoxicated people to prevent them entering the area.
Cllr Bell asked whether allowing for nearly 12 hours of drinking at weekends could not lead to issues with people becoming intoxicated on the premises.
Mr Salmon responded that if an attendee ‘ended up on a park bench having drunk eight pints’ then all security and safeguarding measures had failed, as staff would be keeping an eye on how many drinks people had had.
He added that there would be a wristband system and CCTV in place and the area would ‘quite possibly be the safest place within the city walls’ at that time.
Representations from the public included concerns about noise levels for the period of the licence up to January 6.
Environmental health officers confirmed noise levels would be within acceptable standards and a permit for live music was removed from the application as none is now planned.
A recorded music licence was also needed for the ice rink’s public announcement system, the committee heard.
After two hours of hearing representations and a half hour to decide in private, the alcohol and entertainment licensing sub-committee of cllrs John Ridd, John Elliot and Penny Plant agreed to grant the application.
Edward White, from SK3 Ltd said he was ‘over the moon’. He said: “It’s been a long, drawn-out process. Let’s get it built now and up-and-running.”
Licensing was granted up until and including January 6 from November 24, with the rink expected to open from 10am to 10.30pm starting on December 1.
People using the café area offering festive drinks and the food and drink stalls do not necessarily need a ticket to skate but will have to go through the ice-rink entrance and receive an age appropriate wristband, the committee heard.
Alcohol retail has been permitted Monday to Thursday from 11.30am to 8.30pm and from Friday to Sunday from 11.30am to 10pm.
Recorded music is permitted as per the advertised hours of 10am to 8.30pm Monday to Thursday and from Friday to Sunday from 9am to 10pm.
On Christmas Eve, licensing hours will be from 11.30am to 11.30pm for alcohol sales and from 9am to 11.30pm for music.
On New Year’s Eve. licensing hours will be the same, extended to 1am on New Year’s Day.