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Wolverhampton shop refused alcohol licence due to location

A convenience store in Wolverhampton city centre has been refused a licence to sell alcohol, due to its close proximity to an area already regarded as a problem hotspot for street drinkers.

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The One Stop shop in Stafford Street, Wolverhampton

The new One Stop shop in Stafford Street, had its application turned down because it falls just yards outside the city centre Cumulative Impact Zone (CIZ) –  a designated area where the number, type or density of licensed premises has impacted adversely on the licensing objectives of crime and disorder, public safety, public nuisance and the protection of children from harm.

Licensing bosses said that this meant that it was a “special consideration area”, and raised concerns that granting approval could lead to late-night disturbances from people already intoxicated through visiting nearby pubs.

Simon Voysey, from Licence Leader, representing applicant Mr Rashid Hussain, told this week’s statutory licensing sub-committee that they would be willing to take up offers of mediation from licensing, Public Health and West Midlands Police. He also offered a series of voluntary conditions to be added to the operating schedule, including no beer, lager or cider with an ABV of 6.5% or above and no single cans or bottles to be sold at any time.

Amitabh Singh, section leader for licensing, said: “The premises falls within a special consideration area due to its close proximity to the CIZ – it is literally just a couple of metres away. One of the reasons the CIZ exists is because there are known issues with street drinkers.

“The statement on licensing policy sets out that this application is subject to the matrix approach. It states that as a result of comprehensive knowledge regarding our district, any application for an off licence within any of our CIZs or special consideration areas will be unlikely to succeed where relevant representations have been made.

“Stafford Street in the city centre is not a residential street but a main entry road into the city, with numerous late night refreshment takeaways and further along a number of pubs and bars.

“In recent years there has been a noticeable shift towards more people buying alcohol from shops and drinking at home before going out to pubs and clubs otherwise known as ‘pre-loading’. The council is concerned that alcohol pre-loading from off-licence sales is a significant problem in the city and adversely affects the licensing objectives,” he added.

Council solicitor Ronald Sempebwa said: “Where an application falls within a special consideration area – as this one does – more careful consideration should be paid to the potential impact that its proximity has against the already recognised CIZ zone.

“Again, consideration will be given to the type of premises the application refers to. This is an application for an off-licence within a special consideration zone where it would be unlikely to succeed even where relevant representations have been made.

“The council has adopted a matrix approach to licensing decisions, which provides the framework for what the licensing authority would like to see within these areas. It gives an indication of the likelihood of successes to investors and businesses making applications within this district.

“It is noted that the applicant said that he had invested in the proposed premises. However, it is unclear whether he was aware of the policy in advance of this investment and how it affected the proposed premises.

“The sub-committee is not satisfied that any exceptional circumstances have been demonstrated to warrant a departure from the matrix approach and its statement of licensing policy, and the application is therefore rejected.”