Councillors worried about alcohol-related crime in Cadbury Heath have decided not to appeal against the liquor licence granted to a new convenience store in Heath Rise after being reassured by the area’s new police chief this week.
Inspector Rob Evely, police neighbourhoods manager for South Gloucestershire, was invited to Oldland Parish Council’s meeting on Tuesday when he told them drink-related anti-social behaviour and other crimes in the area were falling.
He said that there had been a 14.6% overall drop in crime in the Cadbury Heath area at the end of March compared to the same period last year – and anti-social behaviour incidents had fallen by 17.4 %.
With Cadbury Heath’s problems with drink-fuelled anti-sociable behaviour well known, there was anger earlier this month when an application from the new Premier Store to sell alcohol from 6am to 11pm seven days a week came before South Gloucestershire Council’s licensing sub-committee.
Community leaders were frustrated that the police did not make any comment about the application from what would be the 19th outlet selling alcohol in a two-mile radius – especially as a few months ago the neighbourhood police team began consulting local people about a proposed crackdown on drink-related anti-sociable behaviour.
A petition with almost 400 names and 50 letters of objection were submitted to the licensing sub-committee and parish councillor Martin Farmer urged the members to reject the application for a licence for the store which is opening next to the First Choice kebab shop. He said it would lead to a “toxic combination” for residents.
The sub-committee granted the application but chair Cllr Shirley Potts voiced her disappointment that there had been no representation from the police. She hoped the conditions imposed on the licence – including CCTV, a proof of age scheme and spirits being kept behind the counter – would ease local concerns.
Oldland Parish Council invited local police officers to their meeting this week as they were considering whether to lodge an appeal through the magistrates’ court against the granting of the licence.
But they decided not to after hearing that the police did not feel they had the evidence to support an objection to the licence. Councillors were also warned about the high court costs the council could incur if they lost an appeal.
Insp Evely told them that in fact the proposed Designated Public Place Order, which would have allowed the police to tell people suspected of being involved in ASB to stop drinking and allow them to confiscate alcohol, would not be put into place.
He said the consultation by local officers had been “enthusiastic but probably a little misguided”. Although 200 letters had been delivered to homes in Cadbury Heath, there had been no consultation with police partners, in particular South Gloucestershire Council’s anti-social behaviour team.
There have been no complaints reported to police about anti-social behaviour in Heath Rise but the police stressed the importance of people contacting them to log any problems that arise.
If there are any issues with drink-related anti-social behaviour around the new store, the alcohol licence will be called in for a review.
Meanwhile the parish council agreed to consider setting up a Shopwatch scheme- which sees retailers working together with police to tackle crime.