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Monday, May 27, 2024

Councillor ‘ecstatic’ after booze application rejected

A local councillor has said she’s “ecstatic” after a food store was denied an alcohol licence amid fears about Harehills’ street-drinking culture.

Salma Arif said residents in the north-east Leeds suburb would be “relieved” by the news.

A new Maxi Foods store, on Harehills Road, had applied for the booze licence after opening in November. The shop’s owner already runs two other branches of Maxi nearby.

But despite the shop promising not to sell beer, lager or cider to exclude street drinkers, a council hearing on Tuesday decided against approving the licence.

Although the store presented a 200-strong petition from customers in favour of the licence, the police, environmental health and 14 residents all publicly objected.

Speaking after the verdict, Councillor Arif said the decision would aid efforts to improve Harehills, as it battles against the crime, anti-social behaviour and littering linked to on-street boozing.

She said: “I’m ecstatic. This news means so much. This shop is smack bang in the middle of a residential area, right next to Barnstead Park.

“This decision means our voices are being heard and that’s really empowered me as an elected member to represent my residents in Harehills, who fear the street-drinking culture and the impact it has on our children, on people’s safety and on perceptions of the area.

“It’s the best news and I’m really relieved.”

Earlier, the hearing had been told that shop boss Dylan Safy had run Maxi Food’s other two branches without incident for several years.

Councillors were told the shop had asked for a licence following requests from customers, but would only sell wines and spirits to appeal to a more family-friendly market.

Mr Safy’s solicitor Chris Rees-Gay said: “He’s a local operator and has a real understanding of the area.

“We want nothing to do with street drinking at all.

“This is for customers, who want do drink responsibly, to be able to purchase alcohol should they wish. There’s no incentive for thr store to sell to street drinkers.”

Harehills is covered by Leeds’ cumulative impact area, which means any new licensing applications involving alcohol have to demonstrate that they will not add to the social problems in the area.

PC Andy Clifford, who objected on behalf of West Yorkshire Police, suggested the shop’s pledge to not sell beers and ciders was not enough to overcome his concerns.

He said: “Harehills is already under significant pressure due to the amount of similar premises already operating in the area.

“There’s 29 off-licences there at the moment.

“We need to move on from this idea a street drinker fits into a particular bracket, or that what they drink depends on what they can or can’t afford. In Harehills it’s far broader than that.

“They’ll drink whatever they can get their hands on.”

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