Agenda item - Go Local, 93 North Road, Brighton: Application to Vary Existing Premises Licence

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Agenda item

Go Local, 93 North Road, Brighton: Application to Vary Existing Premises Licence

Report of the Head of Environmental Health & Licensing (copy attached)


89.1    The Panel considered a report of the Head of Environmental Health and Licensing regarding an application for a variation of a Premises Licence under the Licensing Act 2003 for Go Local, 93 North Road, Brighton.


89.2    The applicant attended the hearing with his representative Mr Simmonds to make representations in favour of the application.    Ms Crowhurst, Councillor Deane, Inspector Harris, Ms Irving, Head of Licensing Sussex Police and Mr Savill, barrister for Sussex Police, attended the hearing to make representations against the application.


89.3    The Licensing Officer outlined the application.  Representations had been received from a Residents’ Association, a local Councillor and Sussex Police.  The representations had expressed concerns relating to Prevention of Crime and Disorder, the Special Stress Area, Prevention of Public Nuisance and Protection of Children from Harm.  There was no history of problems regarding the licence.   The premises was in the Special Stress Area. 


89.4    The Licensing Officer quoted paragraph 2.4.12 of the Brighton & Hove Licensing Policy. “New and varied applications for premises and club premises certificates within SSAs will not be subject to the presumption of refusal, but operators will be expected to pay special attention when drawing up their operating schedules and to make positive proposals to ensure that their operation will not add to the problems faced in these areas.”  The Licensing Officer also quoted paragraph 2.6 of the Licensing Policy which stated “Shops, stores and supermarkets which provide alcohol for consumption off the premises:  the normal scenario will be to provide for sales of alcohol at any time when the retail outlet is open for shopping unless there are very good reasons for restricting those hours.”


89.5    Mr Savill set out the representation from Sussex Police.  He referred to the letter of objection from Sussex Police dated 1 November 2010 and the statement and log of Police Officer Jameson.  There had been three incidents  in this area.


89.6    Mr Savill stated that the application was for a significant increase in hours for which alcohol could be sold.  This was for an extra three hours a day, seven days a week.  The council’s policy relating to Special Stress Areas was set out in paragraphs 2.4.12. and 2.4.13.    The policy expected applicants to pay special attention to the Special Stress Area and to advance positive proposals to ensure that their operation would not add to the problems faced in these areas. 


89.7    Mr Savill stated that Sussex Police considered that it was in the Special Stress Areas where the problems experienced were more acute than the non policy areas.    The problems experienced were serious for the people who lived in and visited the area.  The Panel was entitled to refuse the licence.  There was no evidence of large scale problems attributed to the premises.  Special Stress was not about problems caused by a particular premises.  It was about the accumulation of licensed premises in a particular area.  This was demonstrated by PC Jameson’s statement, which outlined drunkenness, and disorderly behaviour due to the availability of alcohol.   


89.8    Mr Savill considered that extending further the hours for which alcohol was available in the Special Stress Area would only add to the accumulation of problems in the Special Stress Area.  The Police considered that the application should be refused.


89.9    Inspector Harris highlighted the problems that were being experienced by residents in the North Laine area.  The residents’ number one concern was drunkenness & noise.  A licence to 02.00 hours would cause  problems for the police.  This would be another opportunity for people to buy alcohol and take it onto the street.  Street drinking was causing dispersal problems.  When people drank they became loud.  Residents did not want to get up to make an entry in a noise diary at 01.00 hours.  


89.10  Inspector Harris explained that the police were seeing an increase in violent crime in this area.  Beat 4 was the second crime area in the city.  50% of all violent crime was linked to alcohol.  


89.11  Inspector Harris noted that the applicant had offered a door supervisor on Friday and Saturday nights from 23.00 hours.  This did not address the rest of the week.  Although this would control what happened in the premises it would not control the noise in the street.  Mobile door supervisors would be helpful but this was reactive and would not prevent problems that might occur.  The statement of PC Jameson explained the problems in the local area.


89.12  Councillor Deane set out her representation.  She had been actively involved with the North Laine Community Association for four years.  The key issue was anti-social behaviour related to alcohol.  This was happening all hours of the day and night.    


89.13  Councillor Deane referred to Section B of the operating schedule (crime and disorder) which was blank.  Meanwhile measures set out in Section A would not help outside the vicinity of the premises.  She stressed that with off licences, alcohol could be bought up to 02.00 hours but could be consumed hours afterwards.  The applicant could not control crime and disorder relating to alcohol sold on the premises.  The premises was within the special stress area and close to open spaces such as the Brighthelm Centre gardens and Victoria Gardens.


89.14  Ms Crowhurst set out the representation of the North Laine Community Association. The application was in the North Laine within the Special Stress Area.  There was a concern about late night noise and damage to property.  The problems were getting worse and she was worried about the residents in the upper part of the building above the shop.  There were many people living in the apartment building (the old Argus building, now loft apartments).  Residents had not expected an extension to the licence.  Residents were living above 90% of the shops and properties in the North Laine area.


89.15  Ms Crowhurst mentioned that the police statistics showed a continuous problem in the area.  The residents wanted prompt action by the police but this could not always be forthcoming.  One in five premises in the North Laine was licensed.  There were 60 plus outlets.  This was of  great concern.  There were more and more late night variations.  


89.16  Ms Crowhurst stated that the noise and vandalism experienced by residents had affected the quality of their lives. Residents were concerned that there could be more people using the shop and causing more problems between 23.00 and 02.00 hours


89.17  Councillor Simson asked if there were problems before 2005 when the Licensing Act came into effect.  Ms Crowhurst replied that there had always been isolated problems.  She confirmed that there was a problem with people passing through the area but did not believe this was caused by residents. 


89.18  Mr Simmonds asked Councillor Deane if she acknowledged that the large number of conditions on the licence were good practice.  These were set out on pages 14 and15 of the agenda.  Councillor Deane replied that it would be difficult to monitor the effect of what was sold in the store.  People could create a nuisance elsewhere.  There were problems in the area which went on beyond 02.00 hours.


89.19  Mr Simmonds set out the case for the applicant.  The application was for an extension of hours.  The  application was being made as the applicant had identified a need for his customers.  It was driven by business demands.  The premises was almost a mini supermarket.  It sold a range of fresh food and  groceries, cold and prepared food and alcohol.  Alcohol sales formed 20% of the total sales of the store.  The rest was good quality food.  Alcohol was sold at the rear corner of the store.  Some alcohol was sold behind the counter. 


89.20  Mr Simmonds stated that there was no suggestion from the police that this premises was causing problems.  The Brighthelm gardens were approximately 200 yards away.  The applicants had a good record of refusing underage customers.  Mr Simmonds referred to conditions in existence on the licence set out on pages 14 and 15 of the agenda.  They were conditions of good practice.  The applicants operated the Challenge 25 policy.  They had a refusals register and had good training for staff.  Some staff lived above the shop.


89.21    Mr Simmonds stated that he did not believe that an extension from 23.00 to 02.00 hours required further conditions other than those already approved.  The mobile security unit and the door supervisor  were an addition.  It was felt that on Friday and Saturday nights a door supervisor could assist as an extra member of staff to ensure people causing problems could not come into the shop.  There was no record of problems for the premises.  It did not sell cheap alcohol.  The applicants were keen to work with the community. 


89.22    Mr Simmonds stated that the applicant had spoken to customers about problems in the area and they felt that Brighton was generally noisy.  North Road was a main road with heavy traffic.  The extension of hours would allow the premises to trade to its benefit.  The applicant said that the vast number of clients who came into the shop bought a wide range of food and drink.  Alcohol was not usually sold on its own.  In addition, the premises supplied a number of other premises in the area.   However it did not sell alcohol to other licensed premises.  Alcohol was not discounted or offered as an incentive.  The applicants advertised the fact that if customers bought a large amount of food they would get a discount on alcohol. 


89.23  The applicant had had no problems with Trading Standards.  The prices of goods were in excess of other stores in the area.  The applicant wanted to maximise business by having the licence extended to 02.00 hours throughout the week.  Mr Simmonds commended the application to the Panel.  The applicant was operating a responsible premises in the Special Stress Area.  The premises did not contribute to problems in the area.  The premises encouraged customers who were responsible and drank sensibly.  He asked the Panel to grant the licence.


89.24  In answer to questions, Mr Simmonds agreed that as alcohol sales formed 20% of the total sales of the store, it would be possible to extend the opening hours to 02.00 hours without selling alcohol.  However, there were problems with opening the store without selling alcohol.  They would have to consider how to cover up or remove alcohol from shelves during the prohibited periods.  It would be easier to control if alcohol was sold at all times the store was open.


89.25  Mr Simmonds stressed that the applicant would not necessarily always trade until 02.00 hours. 


89.26  The applicant was asked who the shop was aiming to serve between 23.00 and 02.00 hours.  He replied that restaurants and pubs bought fruit and vegetables from the store.  The store served visitors and a lot of people who worked late.   The store ran another premises in Hove.  The sales of alcohol were 20% in term of profit and sales.


89.27  Mr Simmonds confirmed that the nearest off licence was in Queens Road at the back of the quadrant. It operated 24 hours a day.    Many people used the store after 22.00 hours.  They bought newspapers, and food, and the store served pubs and restaurants.   The applicant considered that a large proportion of his customers were local residents and that 90% came on foot.  He confirmed that the premises only provided food to local restaurants and pubs.


89.28  The Licensing Officer gave her closing observations.  The premises was situated in the Special Stress Area, which was recommended for further monitoring.  She stressed that commercial demand was not a matter for licensing.  Conditions should be clear, precise and enforceable.


89.29  Mr Savill gave his closing observations on behalf of Sussex Police.  The application was in the Special Stress Area.  The applicant should be putting forward positive proposals to ensure that his operation would not add to the problems faced in this area.  The concerns of Sussex Police were based on hard evidence.  The problems in the area were good reason to depart from the usual practice of having alcohol hours at the same time as the premises opening hours.  The Panel would need to consider if the grant of the variation promoted the licensing objectives.  If granted, would the variation worsen problems or lessen them?  The police believed the variation would not promote the licensing objectives and they asked the Panel to refuse the application.


89.30  Councillor Deane gave her closing observations.  She stated that the police and residents had made a strong case for refusal.  She did not believe that it was possible to prove that alcohol bought from the store would be consumed responsibly.  Residents were living in close proximity to the premises. 


89.31  Ms Crowhurst, gave her closing observation on behalf of the North Laine Community Association.  She stated that she could not accept that customers needed to buy alcohol after 23.00 hours.  The grant of the variation would add to the problems in the area.  Ms Crowhurst could not understand how the applicant could prove that all customers were local residents.  She stressed that not all outlets in the area were open late at night.  The outlets in Jubilee Street had to close at 23.00 hours.   


89.32  Mr Simmonds gave his closing statement.  He acknowledged that there were problems in the area occurring 24 hours a day.  The premises had demonstrated that it could operate within those problems and would promote the licensing objectives.  The most practical solution was to sell alcohol during opening hours.  With regard to hours, Mr Simmonds stressed that it was possible that the applicant would not always want to open to 02.00 hours.  Should the Panel agree to extend the hours he requested that the hours for the sale of alcohol should be the same as the opening hours, which would be in line with the Council’s current policy.  He requested that the Panel grant the variation.


89.33  RESOLVED - The Panel have listened carefully to those making representations.  The Panel have no reason to think that this operation is not a responsible trader.  That is not what is being questioned here.  What the Panel have to consider is whether by increasing the licensable hours it will promote the Licensing Objectives. 


This premises falls within the City’s Special Stress Area and so requires special consideration when reaching a decision. 


The Panel have heard from both the Police and local residents that this area does suffer from problems of late night disturbance and crime.


The Panel feels that extending the hours would add to the problems and that no measures by way of additional conditions on the licence would mitigate this. 


The Panel is therefore refusing the application because they do not feel it will promote the Licensing Objectives.  


            The Panel solicitor reminded the parties of their appeal rights to the Magistrates Court under the Licensing Act and that appeals must be made within 21 days of written notification of the decision given at the hearing.




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