|Members were required to determine what action to take in relation to an application for grant of premise license under the Licensing Act 2003 to which there had been representations made from interested parties.|
An application for grant of premise licence had been received from Mr Mirza Baig in relation to the Convenience Store, 42 Casson Way, Billingham.
The applicant had applied for a licence for the following:
Supply of Alcohol Off the premises:
Monday to Sunday 06:00 until 22:00
Hours premise are open to public:
Monday to Sunday 06:00 to 22:00
Following discussions with Cleveland Police the applicant had agreed to conditions being attached to the licence, details of which were contained within Appendix 2 of the main report.
Six representations had been received from interested parties who lived within the vicinity of the premise. Three of the interested parties, Mrs Cole, Mr Owens and Ms Thacker were in attendance at the meeting and were given the opportunity to make representation.
The Applicant Mr Baig and his legal representative Mr Collins were in attendance at the meeting and were given the opportunity to make representation.
Mr Collins, on behalf of the Applicant, submitted that this was a first time application from an applicant with no prior experience in the industry. The Applicant had accepted the advice of the Police and amended the proposed Operating Schedule to include the conditions set out at appendix 2 of the report.
Mr Collins acknowledged that there had been serious concerns raised by residents and in an effort to allay concerns, Mr Collins explained that, whilst the Applicant intended to sell the usual branded bottle beers/ciders, the Applicant was not seeking to profit from the bargain booze' market as feared by residents. He was seeking to offer a range of out of the ordinary' spirits from abroad, which would attract a more desirable clientele. Mr Collins gave the example of Armenian Brandy. Mr Collins also added that a condition had been agreed with Police that the Applicant would not sell any beer, larger or cider with an ABV content of 6.5% or more.
Mr Collins also explained that the Applicant was not seeking to aggravate any pre-existing social disturbance, and that if the Police had been concerned about the undermining of the licensing objectives, the Police would have objected to the application or parts thereof.
Mr Collins also submitted that this was a well-founded and honest application, and in response to concerns that the grant of the Premise Licence would cause a "price war" in relation to the sale of alcohol within the vicinity, Mr Collins stated that the statutory ban on below cost selling of alcohol now prevented the sale of cheap alcohol. In addition, the Applicant was willing to advance a reduction in the terminal hour for the supply of alcohol for consumption off premises from 22:00 to 20:00 in order to allay residents' concerns.
Mrs Cole, Ms Thacker and Mr Owen, informed the Committee that there was a high level of anti-social behaviour close to the parade of shops on Casson Way, and that the police had been called to the area on more than a hundred occasions.
Residents expressed their concerns about the potential for four establishments selling cheap alcohol within close proximity of each other. Residents feared that this would spark a price war which, in turn, would trigger antisocial behaviour making it an undesirable place to live.
Mrs Cole, Mrs Thacker and Mr Owens submitted that there was no need for another premise selling alcohol when 48 and 50 Casson Way were already licenced to do this, in addition to the Spar Shop adjacent to these shops. Mrs Cole added that adults were also buying alcohol for children, and youths were gathered around the shops on an evening. Mrs Thacker also added that she had concerns about vermin and vandalism around the shops.
Members had regard to the written evidence which had been circulated prior to the hearing in addition to the oral evidence given and submissions made at the hearing. The Committee also had regard to the statutory guidance issued under Section 182 of the Licensing Act 2003 and the Council's Licensing Policy.
The Committee gave weight to the fact that the majority of the residents' concerns were based on fears of what might happen. Indeed, the incidents complained of had, according to residents, already happened and could not, therefore, be causally linked to the Applicant who had never held a premise licence. The Committee gave the example of Mrs Thacker's concerns about vermin. This was a matter which needed to be reported to the Local Authority's Environmental Health Service.
The Committee were of the view that if the Police had objected to the application, greater weight may have been given to the residents' complaints of anti-social-behaviour in considering the prevention of crime and disorder objective, particularly the oral evidence that the police had been called on more than one hundred occasions. However, in absence of a police objection, and any further evidence corroborating the residents' concerns, the Committee felt unable to attach significant weight to this.
After carefully considering the written and oral evidence in relation to the application, and the fact that the area comprised a large number of elderly residents, the Committee resolved that the most appropriate step in the circumstances was to grant the application on the amended terms proposed by the Applicant as detailed below.
To grant the application for the supply of alcohol for consumption off the premises - Monday to Sunday 06:00 to 20:00 hours
Should there be any nuisance or other relevant issues in the future, the Committee would advise that these issues be reported to the Council's Anti-Social Behaviour Team as soon as possible on 01642 607943. This is a 24 hour telephone line, which allows incidents to be reported as they are happening or as soon as possible thereafter. Alternatively, matters may be reported to Licensing Section on 01642 524802; or Environmental Health on 01642 526575 for general issues or 01642 528034 which is the out of hours number.