Off licence bid sparks concern

By Connie Osborne Friday 21 February 2014 Updated: 21/02 09:49

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Buy photos » District councillors Sue Adams, Mike Gittus and Eric Payne called for no more booze at the Hopkins Precinct. (s)

A ROW of shops plagued by anti-social behaviour and gangs of youths could see a new off-licence open.

An application for Super Wines and Spirits, at Hopkins Precinct on Kinwarton Road in Alcester, was put to councillors at a Stratford-on-Avon District Council licensing meeting last Friday (February 14).

The shop would be able to serve alcohol from 8am until 11pm at night, seven days a week, and would become the second store in that row which would have a licence.

Sgt Robert Shaw, from Warwickshire Police and who covers the Alcester area, said he wanted the committee to reject the application because it was 'a magnet for youths'.

"There has always been issues with anti-social behaviour, crime and disorder," he said.

"We have worked tirelessly over the years to help with the issues and I think granting this application will only heighten it and make it worse."

He added it was already an alcohol restricted zone and a dispersal zone in a bid to stop anti-social behaviour and public nuisance.

He asked, if approved, for any alcohol sold from the premises to have a logo on to identify the shop and called for banning the sale of any 'super strength' booze above 6.5 per cent.

Coun Mike Gittus, a county councillor, district councillor and town councillor for Alcester, said the shop would target and exploit the most vulnerable people in the community in an area of maximum deprivation.

"There is a clear and acknowledged relationship between alcohol and crime, anti-social behaviour and domestic violence and school truancy."

Former Alcester mayor Coun Lennox Cumberbatch added: "The Hopkins Precinct area has been and continues to be the subject of concern for many residents who live in the ward and beyond. As a ward member I continue to have complaints of inappropriate behaviour by young people and also by young adults.

"Additionally, theft from the small supermarket continues in spite the good work of the local police and the PCSO's. A new shop selling alcohol will further adversely impact on the level of crime and unreasonable behaviour."

But Andrew Potts, representing the applicant, said they already had three other stores across the Midlands and the police had never been called out to any.

All staff would be trained under the Licensing Act 2003 and have regular refresher courses, while a CCTV system with cameras inside the shop as well as outside would be installed.

A Challenge 25 scheme would also be in place and they would ban hoods and sunglasses within the store.

A decision had yet to be made on the application as the Standard went to press.

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