With Cadbury Heath’s problem with drink-fuelled anti-sociable behaviour well known, questions are being asked about why the police did not object this week to a 19th outlet selling alcohol in a two-mile radius.
Community leaders are angry and frustrated that the police did not step in to object to the application from the new Premier Store in Heath Rise to sell alcohol from 6am to 11pm seven days a week – especially as a few months ago the neighbourhood police team began consulting local people about a crackdown on drink-related anti-sociable behaviour.
The proposed Designated Public Place Order, the first of its kind in South Gloucestershire, reflects where the most calls related to drink-related anti-sociable behaviour are – and includes Heath Rise.
A petition with almost 400 names and 50 letters of objection were taken along to South Gloucestershire Council’s licensing sub-committee meeting yesterday, outlining local concerns about the new store being allowed to sell alcohol. It is due to open within the next few weeks in what was the old post office, next to the First Choice kebab shop, which was previously a laundrette.
However, the licence was approved. Delivering the sub-committee’s decision, Cllr Shirley Potts (Lab, Staple Hill), who chaired the meeting, said: “We are disappointed that the police offered no advice. Without concrete evidence there is no basis for refusing the application.”
Among those at the meeting were Jo McCarron, Labour’s Parliamentary candidate for Kingswood, local councillors Martin Farmer, Tony Olpin and Sam Balch, and residents Dave Bailey and Amit Patel.
Mr Patel, whose father Mahesh runs the K&A Estate Store in School Road, Cadbury Heath, also voiced his disappointment at the lack of police support. He said a meeting had been arranged with a local Police Community Support Officer to discuss the issue in advance of the matter coming before the sub-committee, but he had not turned up.
Parish councillor Martin Farmer had urged the sub-committee to reject the application for a licence, which next to the takeaway was a “toxic combination” for local residents.
He said that recently the kebab shop’s bid to extend its opening hours until 1am at weekends and midnight on weekdays had been turned down by a planning inspector on the grounds that it would “harm the living conditions of nearby residents”.
Cllr Farmer said: “Oldland Parish Council and residents feel the same – an alcohol licence together with the adjacent kebab shop will harm parishioners’ living conditions.”
Cllr Olpin told the sub-committee he was disappointed that there had been no representation from the police, adding: “I am very much in favour of a convenience store. however, I do have extreme concerns about the sale of alcohol.”
He suggested that if permission was granted it could be for a trial period of six months and wanted a tough limit on the hours the store could sell alcohol.
Dave Bailey, who lives in Heath Rise, told the meeting: “Is there a crying need for another alcohol outlet? No.”
The licensing application was lodged by Melrose Associates on behalf of Prashanth Selvarajah. Shanthakumar Narayan will run the store. Peter Rosser, from Melrose Associates, told the sub-committee that the shop planned to open in three to four weeks’ time.
He said it was “significant” that the police hadn’t objected and assured the meeting that the shop would be a “clean and well-run establishment”.
Mr Rosser challenged Mr Patel over the fact that his father’s shop sold alcohol and yet he was objecting to another business wanting to do the same.
Mr Patel said that his family’s business had been there for 28 years and that they had a good rapport with the community, knew the “drunks and trouble-makers”, and helped “control issues” in the area.
Cllr Potts said she hoped the conditions imposed on the new Premier Store – including the installation of CCTV, a proof of age scheme and that spirits being kept behind the counter – would ease objectors’ concerns. She also suggested the parish council consider setting up a Shopwatch scheme regarding the sale of alcohol locally.
After the meeting Jo McCarron said: “It’s frustrating that despite local residents’ concerns, the committee was unable to fully take on board the reports of anti-social behaviour. It cannot be right that such a strength of local feeling is being seemingly ignored.”
She said she would continue to work with local residents to make sure their views were heard.
Oldland Parish Council will meet next Tuesday, 15th April, to consider whether to lodge an appeal through the magistrates’ court. It has to be made within 21 days of the licence being granted.
Cllr Farmer said he would be urging the council to appeal. The meeting is at Longwell Green Community Centre at 7pm and the local beat inspector has been invited.