Shop's bid to sell booze until 2am rejected after street drinking fears
A Stafford town centre shop's bid to stay open until 2am has been thrown out after concerns about people drinking in the street after nights out.
The Greengate Off Licence currently opens until 11pm seven days a week, but premises licence holder Sathasivam Sivaruban applied for permission to stay open an extra three hours overnight.
But the move sparked concerns from Staffordshire Police, Trading Standards and Stafford Borough Council.
The shop, off Greengate Street, is located with the town centre area covered by a Public Space Protection Order.
This bans people drinking alcohol in the street and anyone caught can be issued with a fixed penalty notice.
Stafford Borough Council's licensing sub-committee heard on Tuesday that penalty notices had been issued to people caught drinking outside the shop.
Staffordshire Police withdrew its representation ahead of the hearing, the panel was told.
There were no trading standards representatives present at the hearing and the applicant was absent too which was described as a “very strange situation” by Councillor Ann Edgeller, who chaired the panel.
“It is a shame we don’t have people here to answer questions,” she said.
The borough council’s community safety lead Victoria Cooper did address the panel.
She said: “We believe that the additional hours will be detrimental to the town centre and anti-social behaviour.
"We have spoken to the applicant and called them in due to people being under the influence as a result of them drinking outside the shop.
“We have had to issue fixed penalty notices and there were three issued in July.
"There were three people causing anti-social behaviour and drinking right outside the off licence.
“We are still monitoring the situation.
"I think it is too early to say that it has any affect but we had 208 incidences of street drinking within the town centre between January and July 2019.
“We have CCTV footage and we have worked with the local police team.
"We have focused on where people were purchasing the alcohol from.”
Julie Wallace, the council’s licensing manager, told the hearing posters were in place at the shop as part of the Challenge 25 scheme to prevent the sale of alcohol to under-age customers.
And the store had been encouraged to stop the sale of single cans of booze.
“There used to be high strength beer and they were selling them in singles”, she added.
Speaking after the hearing Mr Sivaruban said single cans and strong beer were not being sold at the store – and staff were aware of their responsibilities not to sell alcohol to under-age customers.
He added that it was not his responsibility to police the activities of people outside – and he felt had not been supported by the council.
Signs have been put up in the store and at the entrance warning that anyone who appeared to be drunk or intoxicated would not be served.
His application to extend the operating hours of the shop was refused at the hearing in his absence.
Council legal advisor Gary Finn said: “The applicant was not present at the hearing to support the application; the committee was therefore unable to establish the reasons why an extension of hours to 2am would comply with the licensing objectives.
“The committee believes extending opening hours to 2am would undermine the four licensing objectives.”