COUNCILLORS have defied the police and residents’ concerns to grant an early morning alcohol licence for a convenience store.
Fylde Council’s licensing committee claimed police officers had failed to give them a good reason to stop the family-run Singleton Avenue Stores, in St Annes, selling alcohol from 6am.
Dozens of residents packed St Annes Town Hall for the hearing and several raised fears alcohol-related anti-social behaviour would blight their lives and hamper plans to improve nearby Hope Street Park.
But a number of residents had also turned out to support store owner Ravindra Bhakta, who pledged to prove to the community he could run his store responsibly.
PC Lyndsey Hooper had claimed allowing the store to serve alcohol from 6am in the morning – rather than 8am as the police had requested – would attract “street drinkers” and late-night revellers.
The police also objected to the store being allowed to sell single cans and beer and cider with an alcohol content higher than 5.5 per cent.
Neighbouring Hope Street Park is due to undergo thousands of pounds worth of regeneration work in the coming months, and residents said that project could be put in jeopardy if the park became a magnet for under-age and street-drinkers.
The area’s councillor, Coun Nigel Goodrich, said: “There are huge plans to improve the park and it will be a great asset to that area.
“The fear is we don’t want undesirables to be in that area drinking.”
And local resident Pam Curtis added: “In the past the park has been abused by anti-social behaviour. We’ve done an awful lot of work to improve that site and we want to continue that.
“We don’t want it to be jeopardised by having alcohol for sale right on the doorstep.”
The licensing panel agreed to restrict the sale of high percentage beer and cider but said there was no reason to restrict the opening hours and it would be “draconian” to prevent the sale of single cans.
Mr Bhakta, who has pledged to install CCTV in a bid to prevent youngsters getting hold of alcohol from adults, said: “We’re pleased and we want to make sure we provide a service to our customers. We will prove we are responsible people who run a responsible business.”