Brighton community group opposes drinks licence for vegan grocers

A vegan grocery store in Brighton has applied for a licence to sell alcoholic drinks but faces opposition from officials and a community group.

The owners of the newly opened Captain Pig, in Church Street, want to be able to sell vegan beer, cider and wine from 9am to 6.30pm each day.

But the North Laine Community Association has objected to the shop’s application – as has the licensing team at Brighton and Hove City Council.

A council licensing panel is due to hear the case for and against the application at Hove Town Hall on Friday (16 August).

A report to the panel said that the shop was within Brighton and Hove’s “cumulative impact area” where the number of licensed premises has reached “saturation point”.

The council’s policy is to refuse new applications for a drinks licence if objections are received, unless owners can show that their premises will not add to the cumulative impact of crime and disorder and public nuisance.

Rob White, co-owner of Captain Pig, said that the shop would offer a unique service, with customers able to choose vegan alcoholic drinks from a locked cabinet.

Makers of conventional beer, cider and wine often use animal products as part of the process.

Mr White said: “A lot of people have said it will make life so much easier for them, especially with the craft beers and ciders. Offering this means people do not have to compromise their deeply held beliefs.”

He and his partner Claire Sedgwick started a petition in support of their application, with more than 60 people signing it within days of the shop opening on Saturday (10 August).

The North Laine Community Association said: “Since the introduction of flexible opening hours in 2003 residents have had to put up with increased levels of noise from drinkers during the day as well as at night, leading to increased levels of anti-social behaviour and vandalism.

“There are many off-licences in our conservation area, two of which are 24 hours.

“The North Laine Conservation Area, an area 600m x 600m bordered by Trafalgar Street and Church Street, is a densely residential area that suffers from anti-social behaviour, crime and disorder and street drinking which affects our community and the environment.”

Rob White and Claire Sedgwick at Captain Pig

The association said that there were 76 licensed businesses in the area – up from 20 in 2005 – and a new licensed premises would just add to the existing problems.

Council licensing officer Emma Bullen said: “The premises sits within the electoral ward of St Peter’s and North Laine which … under ‘crime and disorder’ data is second worst out of 21 wards for all violence against the person, all injury violence, non-injury assault and sexual offences.

“It is also worst for criminal damage and police-recorded alcohol-related incidents.

“Within the recorded health data, the premises sits in the ward ranked worst for alcohol-suspected ambulance call-outs.”

Like the community association, she objected to the application being approved.

A council licensing panel is due to meet at Hove Town Hall at 10am on Friday to decide whether a licence should be granted.

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