DCSIMG

Call for clampdown over growing cheap booze fear

Concerned that applications have been tabled for more. Pictured below  resident Kelvin Mercer

Concerned that applications have been tabled for more. Pictured below  resident Kelvin Mercer

Within a single square mile of Blackpool’s Bloomfield ward, there are 21 off-licences.

The area has shockingly high levels of crime and domestic violence.

Residents say they see drunks and beggars daily, alcoholics in their 30s and 40s drinking on the benches at all hours.

Drink is cheap and freely available, with around one off-licence for roughly every 150 properties.

It is by most measures – as revealed by The Gazette earlier this year – one of the most deprived areas in the country.

Yet residents there – and in neighbouring Claremont, which has similar figures – say they are astonished that plans have been tabled for yet more shops selling booze to open.

Applications by Prabaharan Thirunavukkarasu for an alcohol licence for KP Store on Talbot Road, in Claremont ward, and by Jeyakanth Murugiahm for premises on Trafalgar Road in Bloomfield ward, were considered by a council licensing panel on Wednesday.

A decision on whether to allow them to open is due in the coming days.

But fed-up residents are calling for a strong message to be sent now, saying allowing any more of the stores to open will simply add to existing problems.

Andrew Paterson, of the Rock-Dene Hotel on St Chad’s Road, said: “I always see people walking down the street with their carry-outs. The drink causes anti-social behaviour, and I would put restrictions on new pubs, as well as off-licences.”

His neighbour, Sharon McGarrity, of the Cosy Nook guest house, added: “There are too many and they sell drink to the wrong people. I’ve had two benches and chairs stolen in a month and I’ve heard of other people having bikes stolen.

“I think it’s all caused by alcohol and drugs. The council need to shut down some of the off-licences already trading.”

Fred Lewis, 53, from Lytham Road, said: “We don’t need any more off-licences.

“Some people can’t deal with alcohol and it causes problems. It is very cheap, so maybe they should put the price up, but even then, if someone wants a drink they will make it happen.”

Amanda Herley, 48, also of Lytham Road, said: “I already see people going along the street drunk and begging for money, even from tourists.

“You don’t see a lot of crime, but you do see fighting and drunks arguing.

“I would have thought 22 off-licences is far too many for an area this size.”

Kelvin Mercer, 40, of St Chad’s Road, said: “We get a lot of alcoholics around here and I agree that problems like domestic violence happen more when people are drunk.

“There are a lot of off-licences.”

Glenys Cunningham, 58, of Lonsdale Road, said: “There never used to be this many off-licences - they seem to be popping up all over the place.

“They close down, and re-open again all the time.

“You get all the young ones going in and getting beer and everything gets a bit rowdy.

“Then there are the alcoholics in their 30s and 40s sitting on benches near Waterloo Road with their drink during the day.”

In 2009, the council introduced a policy in four wards, including Claremont and Bloomfield, which means new premises must prove they will not add to any existing anti-social behaviour if they are granted an alcohol licence.

But PC Lisa Evans, of Blackpool Police, told Wednesday’s panel the police seems to echo the views of residents, in believing any further off-licences would add to existing problems.

Objecting to a licence for KP Store, she said: “That is an area used by many street drinkers who buy single cans and high-level alcohol products.

“The proposed operating times are from 7am Monday to Sunday. This gives me concern as a large nightclub in the area has operating hours to 6am.

“With these premises being in an exit area, revellers will be able to buy alcohol on their way home, when they are already intoxicated.”

Chloe Dobson, public health co-ordinator for Blackpool, said health chiefs were concerned about the availability of high strength alcohol, saying street drinkers and alcohol dependents are “live issues” in the area.

Official figures show Claremont has more than twice the national average of hospital admissions due to alcohol, and one of the highest rates in the town of domestic abuse, much of which is believed to be 
related to drink.

Between May 2013 and April 2014, there were 109 calls to the police per 1,000 head of population about domestic abuse, compared to 17.9 in Norbreck.

PC Evans said the police had similar concerns about the proposed opening of an off-licence on Trafalgar Road. She said: “In an area that is one of the most deprived in the town, and has among the highest crime figures in Blackpool, this is also very concerning to me.”

There were 112 calls to the police about domestic abuse in Bloomfield per 1,000 head of population last year.

Coun Chris Ryan, a member of the panel, said the contribution made to drink problems in the town by off-licence sales had been raised during the EMRO (Early Morning Restriction Order) hearing earlier this year.

He said: “A lot of the issues which came out of the EMRO related to bottles and cans coming from other premises and that the problem was not just the bars and clubs.”

Impact would be ‘minimal’

Solicitor Trevor Colebourne, who represented both applicants, which were dealt with at separate town hall hearings, said the impact would be minimal.

In regard to KP Store, he said: “This is not a Bargain Booze where, for example, 80 per cent of sales are alcohol.

“It has been open since January, successfully as a community store.

“But people are coming in to do their shop, and sometimes they want to buy a bottle of wine or four cans of beer, and because they can’t, they will go up the road to Sainsbury’s instead.”

He said the owner of the Trafalgar Road premises intended to invest £20,000 in refurbishing them.

Mr Colebourne said: “The intention is to open them as a small supermarket and sell the usual range of alcohol products, and all spirits will be behind the counter.”

‘There never used to be this many off-licences’

There were 112 calls to the police about domestic abuse in Bloomfield per 1,000 head of population last year.

Coun Chris Ryan, a member of the panel, said the contribution made to drink problems in the town by off-licence sales had been raised during the EMRO (Early Morning Restriction Order) hearing earlier this year.

He said: “A lot of the issues which came out of the EMRO related to bottles and cans coming from other premises and that the problem was not just the bars and clubs.”

 

Comments

 
 

Back to the top of the page