A petrol station operator has applied for a 24-hour licence to sell alcohol but faces opposition from officials and a neighbour.
The BP filling station, in Kingsway, Hove, also known as Hove SF Connect, is already open 24 hours a day but its off-sales licence runs from 8am to 11pm.
BP applied to Brighton and Hove City Council to extend its off-licence hours at the Marks and Spencer convenience store concession on the coast road site.
The company said that it was an experienced operator with a good track record of dealing with anti-social behaviour around its outlets.
One of BP’s neighbours, Craig Rogers, of St Leonard’s Gardens, said that the company had responded to complaints only when the council became involved.
Mr Rogers addressed a “virtual” council licensing panel on Friday (15 May) when he said that people visiting the petrol station late at night disturbed neighbours.
There was no need for a 24-hour licence at the site, he said, because there were already two premises with late-night licences near by – in Boundary Road, Hove, and Station Road, Portslade.
Mr Rogers said: “It won’t be sober people seeking alcohol between 11pm and 5am who could quite reasonably be responsible enough to make a purchase and leave the area.
“We already have problems with noise. I’ve made an approach to the garage in relation to noise.
“I’ve never received a satisfactory response until dealing with the council.”
Mr Rogers said that people sat on the petrol station’s low wall and that it had been covered in graffiti without any action taken by the store management.
Council licensing manager Jim Whitelegg said that there was no history of licensing complaints or significant crime in this part of West Hove.
But the three councillors who made up the licensing panel were told that it was council policy for off-licence sales to end at 11pm outside the central commercial part of Brighton and Hove.
Some premises in residential areas had 24-hour licences but these predated the council’s current policy, the panel was told.
BP’s solicitor Robert Botkai said that the company had a good track record of resolving anti-social behaviour around its outlets.
Mr Botkai said that the company had consulted Sussex Police although the store was outside the busy parts of Brighton and Hove where extra licensing restrictions applied.
He said that the company could not build a 6ft wall around the site as had been suggested by the council’s environmental health officers. It would be unsightly, it would amplify noise and it would prevent staff from being able to see out.
Mr Botkai said that the company was an experienced operator with 220 similar BP and M&S 24-hour stores with alcohol licences, operating without issues.
He told the licensing panel that the shop had two staff on duty at night, with a “door opening policy” so that they could choose whether to allow a customer in.
BP proposed adding conditions to its licence including a “sensible on strength” policy. This would mean not selling stronger beers and ciders. The store would also not sell single cans.
Mr Botkai said: “We don’t want instant consumption. We don’t want anyone drinking on site or near the site in the vicinity.
“Problem drinkers go for single cans and high-strength drinks when possible. They would not be able to find those items in the store.”
He said that the store had had no issues with street drinking or under-age drinking.
Councillor Jackie O’Quinn, who chaired the licensing panel, suggested that BP hold regular meetings with the area’s residents’ association and ensured that they had a contact number.
She said: “Keeping that dialogue going is important. It can make a lot of difference.”
The panel retired to make its decision which is due to be made public within five working days.