Off-licence bid is rejected

Blackpool Town Hall

Blackpool Town Hall

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Efforts to curb booze fuelled crime in Blackpool risk being undermined by the number of off-licences in the town, police have warned.

A bid to sell alcohol at a town centre convenience store was rejected after licensing chiefs said the plans were “a recipe for disaster”.

Marwan Neif, who runs Foxhall News, on Foxhall Road, had applied for a premises licence for the store, which has been open – but not selling alcohol – for the past two weeks.

Blackpool Council’s licensing panel refused the application after hearing the store is within the four wards that make up the authority’s off-licence saturation policy.

Objecting to the plans, Mark Marshall, the council’s licensing and health and safety manager, said: “Rather than complement the area, he (Mr Neif) is going to overlay the existing provision. This could be a recipe for disaster moving forward.”

Due to the location of the store, Blackpool Council’s saturation policy meant Mr Neif had to prove his store would not add to the problems caused by alcohol in the Bloomfield ward.

Trevor Colebourne, representing Mr Neif, argued the store served a “niche” market and was too small to have a significant impact on the area.

But police said changes to the proposal – including reducing the opening hours and limiting the amount of alcohol on display – were not enough to allay their fears.

PC Lisa Evans told the hearing at Blackpool Town Hall yesterday: “It does not take away my main issue with the premises. The police are not satisfied that the premises would not contribute to problems of alcohol-related crime and disorder in this area.”

The panel heard the ward has 23 off-licences and another would add to the cumulative impact on noise and disorder.

But Mr Colebourne argued his client had significant experience and no record of any problems while working at an off-licence nearby.

He said: “There is a need for this type of independent retail in the area.”

Explaining the decision to refuse the application, Sharon Davies, head of licensing services, said there were “no concerns” over Mr Neif’s suitability to run an off-licence.

However, she added: “It is, in reality, a convenience store, the same as the other two operating nearby.”