Gay bar accuses Brighton police of ‘bully boy tactics’

Illustrated rainbow pride flag on a white background.

One of Brighton’s most popular gay pubs is accusing the police of bully boy tactics over Brighton Pride.

The Queens Arms has won a ‘David and Goliath’ style fight over the right to have a street bar after it went to Brighton and Hove Council’s licensing appeal panel.

The panel rejected police claims that running a street bar outside George Street over the Pride weekend would be a risk to safety and crime and disorder.

The area is being pedestrianised by the Council for the whole weekend.

However it has come to light that the pub cannot go ahead with bar unless it gets approval from the Highways Agency. It initially gave permission but then retracted it three days later citing that police have objected on safety grounds.

“The police have got to them,” said Andy Feest, landlord of the Queens Arms. “The police don’t like losing and they have applied pressure on officials to make the retraction and I believe they have acted outside of their powers.”

The police even argued at the appeal hearing that Brighton Pride objected to the pub having a street bar. Pride is vigorously denying this and now the police have admitted that they were mistaken.

The licensing of the gay village pedestrian area is causing bitter divisions between Pride and some other venues.

“At least three venues are refusing to raise money for Pride thinking it’s Pride whose messed up but in fact it is the police who are stopping us from have a proper Pride fun weekend,” said Mr Feest, “At first I thought it was Pride but having fought this battle I realise now exactly where the problem is and it is with the Police.”

Former Pride trustee David Tuck said the police behaviour is damaging the good relationships built up by Pride over the last four years, “In one foul swoop the police have driven a wedge between Pride and some of the gay businesses and the knock on effect is that police relations with the gay community are starting to deteriorate.”