Brighton shop which lost its drinks licence awaits verdict on fresh application

A Brighton off-licence which was closed for nearly a year after its drinks licence was revoked looks unlikely to be granted another premises licence.

Moonlight, formerly International Food and Wine, was described as having a shady history of selling drink to under-18s and stocking illicit and smuggled booze.

Sussex Police and the Brighton and Hove City Council licensing department both objected to an application for a new premises licence for the Preston Road shop.

Council licensing officer Donna Lynsdale said that the landlord and previous tenants had breached the terms of their original premises licence.

It was revoked in December 2017, an appeal failed and a new application was refused last April.

She said: “After continuous problems with the premises, the licence was revoked. This premises alone has taken a lot of time and resources by all.

“When the licence was revoked a strong statement was sent to other premises.”

A council licensing panel, sitting at Hove Town Hall today (Monday 25 February), heard how the licence attached to the premises, not to the person in charge.

This meant that there was a risk of the return of the same problems of under-age sales and poor management.

Ms Lynsdale said that there was little that the council could do to stop the landlord transferring a new licence to someone else.

The panel was told that the area had posed an enormous problem during Pride, with off-licences in the area, which are open until 3am, selling alcohol to people who were already drunk.

Police licensing officer Hannah Staplehurst described Preston Road as saturated with off-licences.

She said that there were three directly opposite Moonlight as well as restaurants, cafe bars and two busy pubs.

She said: “This part of Preston Road is densely residentially populated, with the premises in question both under and opposite flats.

“Another off-licence along this stretch of road is not suitable and creates a potential nuisance for residents.

“This area suffers from a certain amount of anti-social behaviour, with a number of off-licences, pubs and cafe bars close by all impacting on the location.”

If a licence is granted, Sussex Police wants it to include a condition that two staff are on duty from 7pm to 11pm seven nights a week.

Potential tenant Rany Dahwch originally applied to sell alcohol from 7am until 3am on Fridays and Saturdays and from 7am until 1am Sunday to Thursday.

He runs Booze Corner in Lewes Road, which has a 5am licence.

Mr Dahwch was offered the lease of the Preston Road shop by his Lewes Road landlord, who owns both buildings, the panel was told.

But he had not yet signed a contract because he wanted to secure a premises licence first.

Councillor Jackie O’Quinn

If a licence was granted, the panel was told that the shop would be refitted and branded as a Premier store and that 80 per cent of the stock would be convenience food and household products.

A report before the licensing panel said that the council’s policy was for off-licences to be able to sell alcohol only until 11pm at the latest in “a densely residential area”.

The panel discussed possible conditions – were a licence to be granted – and these included selling drink only from 10am to 11pm.

The panel was also told that the Moonlight store was just outside the council’s “special stress area” where alcohol licences are restricted and new off-licence applications are usually refused.

Sussex Police was concerned that drink bought from Moonlight could be consumed at The Level which was an area of concern.

Councillor Jackie O’Quinn, who chaired the panel, said: “It is not a quiet bit of Hove. It’s a different area.

“We are looking at this area because of concerns about it and considering putting it in the special stress area.”

The panel will make its decision in the next five days.

  1. Christopher Hawtree Reply

    Interesting that cllr O’Quinn cites peaceful Hove as a contrast to Preston Road. It is certainly a shame that these boozeramas blight a road with interesting shops, such as the one that sells plaster ceiling roses.

    As it is, a strong Police objection – as in this case – usually emboldens a Licensing Panel, when it discusses matters with the Lawyer during a withdrawal, to stop these wretched proposals.

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