Booze licence approved for Blackpool store in 'high risk area'

The premises on Central Drive
The premises on Central Drive
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A store on Central Drive in Blackpool will be allowed to sell alcohol despite warnings by the police the move will lead to more booze-fuelled crime in the area.

But a town hall panel heard applicant Francis Jeevaratnam, who had applied for a new licence for the former Bargain Booze store, was an experienced operator who already ran several other trouble-free off-licences in the town.

His solicitor Michael Woosnam told the hearing: "I would say that shows someone who either directly, or through those he manages, runs a tight and law-abiding ship."

He said Mr Jeevaratnam was taking over premises which closed last year, and would be rebranded as a Premier store with the main focus on food sales supporting local suppliers.

This would help to regenerate this area of Central Drive, councillors were told.

Mr Woosnam said: "A great many premises in that stretch are just empty shop fronts.

"A convenience store, by this new concept, is not only good because it is one less empty shop front but a positive step in terms of regeneration of this area."

PC Emma Pritchard, representing Blackpool police licensing, said they were concerned about the impact of another off licence in an area which was already a magnet for street drinkers.

She said: "Our concern with this application is that Central Drive is really problematic for the police. We have numerous problems, a lot of which are on the street."

Police evidence submitted to the panel said officers been called to 186 incidents on Central Drive in 28 days including drunken rows between neighbours, drink-fuelled domestic abuse and rowdy behaviour in the streets.

The premises is also within the council's cumulative impact area meaning any applications for new licences must prove they will not add to existing problems caused by alcohol.

Public health chiefs had also objected to the application, warning the neighbourhood has the highest number of alcohol-related hospital admissions in Blackpool.

The panel approved a licence for the store to sell alcohol between 8am and 11pm daily.

Panel chairman Coun Adrian Hutton said: "Mr Jeevaratnam has a proven track record both in Blackpool and the Fylde coast including in high risk areas."