I went to a meeting at our local council offices today. The local shop which is almost opposite my house has been sold to new owners and they have asked to change what it sells. They want an off-sales alcohol licence to sell between 6am to 11pm everyday.
There was uproar in the local community. There are three small shops, this one which has been for years a papershop come small convenience shop. We use it a lot for milk, newspapers (when we bought them), etc. It currently closes about 8pm weekdays and Saturday (it has to stay open to then on Lottery nights to hold the right to sell tickets), the other two are a small ladies hairdressers and a tanning salon. They are small but handy businesses – but recently over the last couple of years parking has been a real issue, it isn’t uncommon for our driveway to be blocked – it was ironically today when I returned from the hearing.
Over 90 people wrote in complaining about the change of hours and selling alcohol. We are a densely populated area and have in the past had small issues with anti-social behaviour with kids – they have little to do and there is a very small green outside the shops where they congregate on summer nights.
Basically the law is an ass – to quote someone clever than me. We were told by the applicants legal representative we can’t complain about the parking that has not baring on the decision. We can’t say the shop is used by numerous young children therefore seeing people buying alcohol at 8am as they buy their sweets is again “not admissible”.
The applicant is not from out area and want to build the business to an 18 hour convenience store – it just simply isn’t appropriate for the area. Our councillors came along and spoke in support of the opponents but they admitted the law was on the side of the applicant. They said they had “consulted” with the residents – which legally they had – they had put up signs in the shop detailing the application but that was it. Not one of the 90+ had had any direct correspondence with them. At the beginning of the meeting they offered to reduce opening hours to 10pm at night.
We won a small victory – the panel after nearly 2 hours of deliberation after the 1.5 hours of presentation, questioning etc. – agreed to only granting the licence up to 8pm. Sadly I think the weekends will still attract people to come and buy booze sit on my wall and drink it. I’ll put the police station on speed dial I suppose as we can after 6 months if there is sufficient evidence ask the council to review the licence. But just strikes me that the law seems to state you have to create a problem before you can fix it rather than prevent it in the first place. Dumb.
Funnily – the poster AA created last November was up in the area we were waiting – I stood in front of it oblivious to it being there drinking my coffee. Luckily my face is obscured and I was in totally different clothing – it would have been funny to be stood there in the same stuff – I wonder if anyone would have clocked it.
The other thing that is daft is you cannot argue there is no need for a new outlet for alcohol since there are several in walking, short driving, distance. That is anti-competitive – no it is sense. The World Health Organisation recently released a report stating alcohol consumption is leading to a “tsunami” of cancers which our health service will not cope with but as it stands soon every shop in the country will be glad to serve you the poison at 6am. I’m glad I’m stronger in my recovery that it won’t be a threat (at least I don’t believe so) but you do think there is so little “joined up thinking” in the world… I say again… The Law is an ass!