Neighbours are worried that their area will become afflicted by noise and anti-social behaviour if a newsagent is granted a licence to sell alcohol.
Dozens of them were so concerned that they wrote to object to a licence application by Martin McColl Ltd, owner of Martin’s, in Richardson Road, Hove.
The company applied to Brighton and Hove City Council for a licence to sell drink from 6am until 11pm seven days a week.
The application prompted 92 letters of opposition from neighbours, local businesses and ward councillor Chris Henry.
People from the area also spoke out at a licensing panel at Hove Town Hall today (Monday 28 October).
Richard Gill, who lives in the area, urged the panel to reject the application to sell beer, wine, cider and spirits from 6am until 11pm every day.
Mr Gill said: “Richardson Road is a sleepy backwater. We want to keep it as it is.
“If you do allow this, we will get people singing and shouting late at night. We do not want increasing drunkenness and anti-social behaviour.”
He told the panel that he had also objected to a previous application for a licence in 2013.
Sussex Police also opposed the application. Police suggested 8am to 10pm as licensed hours but the proposal was rejected by the company.
The force’s licensing officer Mark Thorogood told the panel that the area was not considered a problem by police.
Westbourne, was ranked 20th out of 23 electoral wards in Brighton and Hove for alcohol-related crime.
The police wanted it to stay that way, he said.
Martin McColl’s barrister, Leo Charalambides, said that the company was committed to being a good operator. If neighbours’ fears were realised, he said, the licence could be reviewed.
The company wanted to convert the shop from a newsagent to convenience store for commercial reasons, he said, and the shop already sold cigarettes without any issue with “proxy sales” – youngsters asking adults to buy cigarettes on their behalf.
The shop did not employ any teenagers, Mr Charalambides said, reducing the risk of underage sales. He added: “None of our shops are run in a way to attract kids.
“Why does anyone thing McColl’s wants to operate that way? It would be bad for business, bad for the community and bad for our reputation.”
Staff also have regular training and refreshers if they log either too many or too few refusals.
Mr Charalambides said that he understood neighbours’ anxieties but they were just that, anxieties, as the shop would not be a destination but there to serve the community.
He said: “We will behave because we want people to go out from their homes and walk to us.”
Councillor Jackie O’Quinn said that she knew the area well, adding: “The area is quiet and I can see why people want it to stay that way.
“It’s quiet, without the problems further down the road in Hove. It would be a shame to damage this little enclave.”
She made reference to how the council’s Licensing Committee had restricted new licensed businesses in part of Hove after a large number of bars opened along Church Road.
The panel said that licensed sales could be restricted, with 9am until 9pm as a compromise, and they could be limited to no more than 20 or 25 per cent of the shop floor area.
The panel was chaired by Councillor O’Quinn and included Councillor Martin Osborne and Councillor Theresa Fowler. Their decision is expected to be made public within five working days.
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