Neighbours in two of Blackpool’s most deprived areas have today welcomed a decision by town hall bosses to throw out applications for new off-licences.
The Gazette told last week how there are already 21 off-licences alone in a single square mile of Bloomfield ward, while there are a further 18 in Claremont ward.
Yet licensing bosses at Blackpool Council were presented with 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. They were considered by a council licensing panel on Wednesday.
Police opposed the bids, saying it was becoming simply too easy to get cheap booze in parts of the resort.
And residents also told The Gazette there were too many of the shops already in existence. Both Bloomfield and Claremont wards also have poor rates of domestic violence and alcohol-related hospital admissions.
Now the council’s licensing panel has turned down both bids.
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, so I can see where the council is coming from.”
Sheila Hallam, 58, from Shaw Road, said: “I use pubs rather than off-licences but I understand what the council have done.
“The anti-social behaviour is terrible around here and it’s all caused by alcohol. It’s a way of life for some people.”
Darek Machowiecki, who runs the Polish Delicatessen in Bloomfield, said the council’s policy was inconsistent.
“They gave another shop just down the road a licence only a few months ago,” he said. “The two empty shops on the corner of Lytham Road both used to struggle even when they had licences. But now the council won’t grant licences to any new tenants, so the businesses that have opened up in them have closed after a few months.
“I wanted to open a Polish cafe in one of them but the council wouldn’t give me a licence. When the council says there are too many off-licences I can accept that even if I don’t like it - but it amazes me that they don’t apply the same rules to everyone.”
One off-licence owner, who did not wish to be named, said: “I agree there are too many.
“Some off-licences sell alcohol to kids and you get so many people drinking on the street.”
But another off-licence owner, who also wished to remain anonymous, disagreed.
“I think the council should have granted the licence,” he said. “It’s really difficult for anyone to trade without a licence these days.
“I don’t think this decision will make a blind bit of difference because drinkers will find somewhere to get alcohol.”
Trevor Colebourne, the solicitor acting on behalf of both applicants, told Wednesday’s hearing that the impact of both of the stores would be minimal.
But, in refusing the KP store application, the panel said the experience of the applicant in running such a shop was “a concern”.
They also cited challenges in the area, including high levels of domestic abuse, street drinking and hospital admissions because of booze.
They added: “The panel accepts the view of both the police and public health that the granting of this licence would increase the supply of alcohol in this area without increasing the demand” which would in turn potentially lead to retailers taking risks “such as selling to drunks or children.”
The premises on Trafalgar Road was rejected after similar issues with alcohol related harm and supply and demand were again cited.
The panel concluded giving a licence would add to existing problems in the area.