A licence for a fourth outlet to sell alcohol in the centre of Cadbury Heath has been granted, despite concerns about the impact it could have on crime and disorder.
The Cadbury Heath Local store at 54 Newton Road, which has opened in the old Martins newsagents, becomes the third off-licence in the shopping area, while The Lamb pub is just a few metres away.
The lease of the shop has been taken by Amitkumar Patel who applied to South Gloucestershire Council as the licensing authority to sell alcohol from 6am to 11pm every day.
One resident who lives very close to the store told Tuesday’s virtual meeting of the Licensing Sub-Committee that there are already problems at the convenience shop around the corner, namely with youths hanging out and dealing drugs, and feared that the same problems would arise outside the new store.
He added that there have been violent crimes at the Co-op store, citing break-ins, staff being threatened, and knife crime. He said the prospect of another outlet selling alcohol is “so disheartening”.
Oldland Parish Council had also objected, fearing that more available alcohol could lead to an increase anti-social behaviour and inappropriate social gathering, particularly in and around Banjo Island. Parish councillors also voiced concern about the litter and mess that would be created.
Sub-committee member Cllr Michael Bell asked whether Mr Patel would be prepared to set an example and not sell high alcohol content drinks.
His agent Mr Leahy said that such a limitation had been introduced in Stokes Croft in Bristol which was made a Cumulative Impact Area following a lot of street drinking and investigation by all the authorities who had come together to create the policy. He stressed it is for the police or local authority to bring forward such a condition based on evidence, and that did not apply to the application being heard.
Mr Leahy argued that Cadbury Heath Local would not add to the amount of alcohol being sold in the area but would rather be a redistribution of the market. He said that under the Licensing Act a need for a licence does not have to be proved, the sub-committee just has to be satisfied that the premises will not impact negatively on the four licensing objectives – prevention of crime and disorder, public safety, prevention of public nuisance and protection of children from harm.
He emphasised that no objections had been made by the police or other responsible authorities to Mr Patel’s application, and that a number of conditions had been agreed with Trading Standards.
He said that the addition of alcohol sales is necessary to ensure that Mr Patel can compete with other local businesses, and that he lives above the premises with his family.
And he advised that Mr Patel would be willing to restrict the amount of alcohol to no more than 30% of the floor area and to accept an earlier closing time of 9.30pm for alcohol sales on a Sunday to mitigate some of the concerns raised.
Chair of the sub-committee Cllr June Bamford said members had to go by the fact that the police had raised no objections: “It’s a shame we have to wait until there are possibly problems before anything can be done. Let’s hope if we grant the licence, there aren’t.”
Subsequently agreeing to the licence after a discussion in private, the sub-committee noted in their decision notice that no objections had been made by the responsible authorities, including the police, and took into account Home Office guidance that licensing committees should look to the police as the main source of advice in regard to crime and disorder.
The sub-committee felt that conditions, including an earlier finish time for alcohol sales on a Sunday, would mitigate objections raised. Other conditions include CCTV, that spirits are located behind the counter and all other alcohol on display is not obscured from the constant view of staff, who will be trained in the prevention of under-age sales.
Mr Patel must also ensure that adequate measures are in place to remove any customers’ litter. Deliveries of alcohol will only be made to a fixed address.
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